Arsenal's new left-back Nacho Monreal could be thrown straight into Premier League action at home to Stoke City this afternoon, with Arsène Wenger confident the Spain international can adapt quickly to the game in England.
The full-back was signed from Malaga only on Thursday night but with regular left-back Kieran Gibbs out for up to two months and Thomas Vermaelen a doubt, Wenger may hand him a quick debut.
"Monreal is available for the weekend game," Wenger said yesterday morning. "I have not made a decision yet. [If the game is] too quick or not, that is what I have to decide."
Arsenal moved late in the transfer window after Gibbs picked up a thigh injury during Wednesday evening's game against Liverpool. "If Gibbs is out for four to six weeks, from six it can easily go to eight [before he is competitive again] and that means two months in a very decisive period. It's vital to have another left-back. We were in a position where we had to make a quick decision. That explains our buy."
Wenger is confident that Monreal, who has seven Spain caps, will fit in to Arsenal's approach. "We bought him as well because we believe he can integrate our style of play and adapt very quickly to that," Wenger said. "He has the characteristics to play our game because he is very mobile, he has a good left foot and is very good in combination play. It is of course vital in our style of play.
"What I like with him is his quick decisions. He's good in the air. He's not super tall but he's good in the air, which is always important. His transitional play, from offence to defence and defence to offence, is quick.
"I don't think he's as spectacular going forward as Jordi Alba [Spain's first choice left-back], he is quite unique. But his offensive record is quite good, in creating crosses and final balls. He's quite good at that."
Monreal played with Santi Cazorla at Malaga and Wenger said he discussed Monreal's character with the playmaker. "The worry for us is how well he will adapt to English life. Santi said we have no problem on that front. He's a very intelligent boy and he's very good in the dressing room."
Monreal will join a defence that has conceded seven goals in their last four games and Wenger again explained their struggles as being due to a lack of confidence.
"Somebody told me that we were second in the league, just two points behind Man City, on our second half of games, but 12th in the first half," Wenger said. "That can only be psychological because you do not become a good football player in the second half and you are bad in the first half.
"The team has certainly been deeply affected by all the negativity and as well by the fact they are highly focused to do well."
Wenger said that none of his players enjoyed criticism. "Everyone of us is affected by criticism. I didn't meet one person who loves absolutely to be slaughtered. All of us prefer to say 'yes you're great, you're good'."
Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby could both return in midfield for the visit of Stoke.