Arsene Wenger has heaped praise on Kieran Gibbs who made his 100th appearance for Arsenal in Saturday’s 4-1 win against Reading, and claims he is now one of the best in the Premier League.
The 23-year-old has struggled with injuries this season, but when fit he has been strong defensively and offensively and prior to Nacho Monreal’s winter arrival, Gibbs was an automatic selection. However Wenger believes the two could lineup together in the starting XI, with the Englishman a viable option in a more advanced role.
Eyebrows were raised when Gael Clichy was sold to Manchester City in 2011 and Gibbs identified as the first choice left back, however he has stepped up especially after establishing himself this season and has proven his quality to doubters.
Arsene Wenger said of the Englishman’s improvement:
I think this season has been, despite the fact that he was in doubt for a while, a step up season for him.
He has improved a lot, has put his personality into the games, which was sometimes a bit of a problem for him. He has authority, he is decisive going forward, and in games where we were struggling a bit like Swansea in the cup he turned up and was the one who brought the pressure on the opponent.
Even at Munich when he had been out for six weeks he came straight back in and had a very decent game. For me he has moved into the top three left backs in the country.
January not only brought with it Nacho Monreal from Malaga, but also the departure of Andre Santos which is likely to become permanent this summer. Now Wenger has two top-quality left-backs at his disposal, he feels the competition is healthy and Gibbs can compete with his Spanish counterpart. With both Monreal and Gibbs attacking minded defenders who can cross, Wenger has hinted at the possibility that the duo could pair up on the left at the same time. Wenger continued:
He is ready for the fight. I did it because I believe you never know with only one left back. You need two. And as well because both can play one in front of the other, so there’s an opportunity to use them both in some games.
Competition is vital for every position in the Gunners lineup as it helps to rule out complacency among stars, the same goes for the left back position and essentially the left wing. The ability to use both of the wing backs in games that require a slightly more defensive lineup, perhaps if Arsenal are holding onto a lead, is useful for Wenger to have up his sleeve. Both Gibbs or Monreal are more than capable of playing on the wing and perhaps their quality distribution could be better utilized playing in a more advanced role, especially the Englishman who possesses bundles of pace.
For me Monreal is the better of the two at this stage, however there is no disappointment when Gibbs is utilized instead. What are your thoughts with both Gibbs and Monreal lining up together in the future? Feel free to comment below..