By Alex R
Arsenal’s fullback positions are nicely stocked at present, but the difficult battle for left back may leave Kieran Gibbs in the lurch this summer with suggestions the Englishman could leave the Emirates – his only parent club at senior level. The fact that he was not even in the Gunners squad for their 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace leaves Gibbs in a precarious position.
The Evening Standard last week reported the 26-year-old as being unhappy at his current situation that has seen the former first-choice left back start just 12 games this season.
Like Gael Clichy to Ashley Cole, Kieran Gibbs was Clichy’s long term replacement at Arsenal, while he has been touted as the future England left back. How times have changed. Nacho Monreal has been arguably the best left back in the league and deservedly is Arsene Wenger’s first choice. Not many would have predicted Gibbs’ fall from grace, considering he swiftly became the Gunners first choice left back and was one of the five much heralded British Core that have somewhat faltered in their development.
This season Gibbs has started just 12 matches in all competitions, making 16 appearances from the bench as Wenger looked to sure up matches by introducing as many defenders as possible. Not a terrible return but it’s clearly hampered his development and his chances of going to France this summer.
With Ryan Bertrand and Danny Rose ahead of him in the pecking order, this summer’s European Championship is Gibbs’ best chance to be England’s No 3, however he is running out of time to edge his way into Roy Hodgson’s thinking.
Gibb’s situation has been difficult when you consider he has been called upon on a number of occasions and the Englishman has been up to scratch – even scoring a vital equalizer against Spurs last year as an impact sub playing further forward on the left wing.
Considering the Gunners are in a sticky situation in the league, now sitting fourth behind Manchester City, many season ticket holders are starting to sell their Arsenal tickets back to the ticket exchange service for the remaining home ties with little left to play for. Gibbs would ideally feature a little more as the season comes to a close, but Monreal is the front runner for a starting berth and will be tricky to take any chances for the sake of playing a player who is clearly second fiddle to the Spaniard.
A move away this summer does seem unlikely at first glance, however should Wenger continue to choose Monreal next campaign or purchase another top drawer left back this summer, Gibbs inevitably will edge nearer the exit door.
Gibbs is surely not happy resided to the bench despite being at the club his entire professional career. When you look at the fact that Monreal, 32, will surely be winding down at the end of next season, the door is still wide open for Gibbs to stake his claim once again.