Time For Kieran Gibbs To Start For Club & Country?
In recent times it is tough to think of such a bright and talented young player who has been unfortunate enough to be behind two quality players the way Kieran Gibbs has been at both club and country level. For Arsenal, Gael Clichy has been a mainstay since the departure of Ashley Cole, earning numerous plaudits and awards for his often scintillating work up and down the left flank, which has also earned him 8 caps for France since 2008. Whatever may be made of his personal life, it remains that Ashley Cole is a once-in-a-generation talent and probably the best left back in the world, and at age 30 is well on his way to the century mark of caps for England with 87 in the bank already, including 2 World Cup Finals.
But it seems the time is now right for the 21 year old from South London to permanently make the breakthrough, for a few reasons. Clichy has undoubtedly been one of Arsenal’s most consistent players in recent seasons, but it must be said that the Frenchman has struggled to reach his previous levels of performance this term, and with speculation growing over his refusal to talk about or discuss a new contract til the end of the season, it seems likely that the Gunners could sell Clichy this summer with a year left on his contract rather than lose him for nothing come next summer.
Arsenal have not been afraid to put trust in youth, as seen with the rapid rise of both Wojech Szceszny and Jack Wilshere this season alone, and with Gibbs having been involved with the first team for 4 years now Wenger might be comfortable with Gibbs as his everyday left back. Even if Clichy does indeed stay for the foreseeable future and signs a new deal, Gibbs could yet find a way into the team via his past; originally brought up as a winger in the Wimbledon and then Arsenal systems, Gibbs only switched to fullback in 2008 at the behest of Wenger.
With Tomas Rosicky and Andrey Arshavin both struggling to displace each other, it is not unreasonable to see Gibbs being employed on the left side of midfield as a winger, such is the trend this year, with converted fullbacks Gareth Bale and Seamus Coleman both enjoying hugely successful years. Gibbs has terrifying pace, an eye for an incisive pace, and close ball control that would make him very suitable to the role. The combination of both speed and the willingness to get stuck in and play solid defence makes him the ideal combination, and perhaps what Wenger has been looking for, with Rosicky slower but more capable defensively than the attack-minded Russian, Arshavin.
An England debut came in August alongside Arsenal team mate Jack Wilshere against Hungary, in England’s first friendly after their World Cup exit. He then started in the 2-1 loss to France, but an injury saw him miss out on last month’s friendly encounter with Denmark. A lack of first team playing time means he may miss the chance to add a third cap on 26 March against Wales, but he could well be called up for the friendly on 29 March against Ghana. Cole remains the first choice, but with continuing personal strife and the constant chance of injury, Gibbs looks set to be more involved with Capello’s set-up. The Italian manager is a known admirer of Gibbs, calling him “the future” of the national side.
More first team football at Arsenal will only enhance his England credentials, and with Cole now 30, it looks as if the Kieran Gibbs era is to begin soon in for the North London side and the Three Lions. When do you think it will be?
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