There’s no denying that Arsenal are looking a much stronger side than they did a few months ago. And while part on this is down to the scintillating form of Waclott, the ever growing confidence of Wilshere and the attacking flair of Giroud the defence has also played its part.
And in particular Arsenal’s key defender this season has arguably been Kieran Gibbs. At the start of the Liverpool, game Gibbs’ Arsenal future looked assured. Not only was he playing well and had signed a new long term contract, but after a series of disastrous performances no one believed that Andre Santos posed any real thereat to his position.
Then disaster – yet another injury- this time to the thigh – and Gibbs is out for over a month and Arsene Wenger – in old school parlance – got his cheque book out.
Nacho Monreal then looks like a superb signing. Against Stoke, a baptism of fire if there ever was one, he looked assured, always in control, tough in the tackle and imaginative going forwards. Pretty much everything you’d want from a left back. And it was clearly no fluke. Take a peek at these these stats here. Monreal has been Malaga’s Mr Consistent. No wonder that Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini said that he was very sad to see him go.
The big question then is what happen when Gibbs returns to full fitness? Will he be straight back into the team? Sadly the answer is probably no. As accomplished a player as Gibbs is he has never managed a run of more than half a season without an injury and I think that pushed Wenger to move for a number one left back.
There were rumours that Wenger had decided he was going to sign Monreal in the summer anyhow and just pushed the deal forward. This might be true, but had Gibbs been injury-free for the season and Meade started to emerge as a potential replacement then I am not so sure that a left back would have been high of Wenger’s targets.
Wenger has gone on record as saying that he sees Monreal as one of the five best left backs in the world. I am not sure he would rate Gibbs quite as highly.
So I fear for the Arsenal future of Kieran Gibbs. For me he is a superb left back and way too good to be anyone’ s understudy. Who knows what the next six months will bring and maybe Wenger will give Gibbs the nod when he is fully fit.
But I think like Carl Jenkinson, this young Englishman is destined for a season or two not playing anything like as much football as he hoped.
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