It’s not a case of has Kieran Gibbs got the talent to succeed as Arsenal’s no.1 Left Back, it has always been a case of can he stay fit enough to make that spot his own.
Kieran has been at the Gunners since 2004, where he made the jump up to the first team in 2007, playing a relative disappointing 61 times for the Gunners.
There is a funny story to Gibbs becoming a Arsenal player.. He was at Wimbledon until 2004, until they disbanded and became the Milton Keynes Dons. He was playing left wing at the time. However, one of his friend’s got scouted for Arsenal, and got offered a trial there; after not finding a club since leaving Wimbledon, his friend asked if he could bring Kieran along, and Arsenal accepted. Kieran got offered a place at the club, and his friend didn’t. I don’t want to bore you on his stat’s here, but this does show a remarkable improvement, for Kieran and Arsenal. Kieran, in his time, has suffered 8 injuries, totalling to nearly a year out injured. Just injured. That isn’t taking into account, gaining fitness, gaining match fitness. After replacing Gael Clichy as Arsenal’s number 1 left back in 2011, He has appeared in the red and white of Arsenal in the league a total of 43 times, injuries included, nearly double his appearances in the first 4 seasons on being Arsenal’s books.
Less of the stats, I want to take a look at his playing style. After seeing off the challenge( Well, you say challenge) of Andre Santos, Kieran grew in confidence, having a steady full first season, not setting the scene alight, just being a steady and consistent LB. His season didn’t really start until the start of January 2012, as he sustained a stomach problem in October 11 and was out injured for 6 week’s, but after that he really flourished. He was instrumental in clawing back the point gap with Tottenham, starting his first game since injury against the Lily Whites in “that 5-2”, which boosted Arsenal massively. He also saved Arsenal’s champions league hopes in the last game of the season against West Brom, making a crucial sliding tackle in the dying moments to deny Billy Jones. Once again Gibbs started the season as Arsenal’s no.1 left back, and crucially, along with others of the British Core, he signed a new long term contract with the Gunners. However, after blowing Santos out of the water, Kieran suffered another 6 week injury at the end of January, meaning Arsenal had to spend £10 million on Spanish international Nacho Monreal, proving quality completion for the England left back. Gibbs finished the season strong, the same as last time. It was almost like a case of Déjà vu from the season before. The same events occurred. The same score line happened with Tottenham. And Gibbs had a remarkable game up at Newcastle. Not much else you can say.
There is a healthy debate around the Arsenal fans at the moment, on who should be Arsenal’s no.1 left back, something we haven’t had in ages. For me, completion for places, means both players have to better themselves and improve, which is good news for everyone. They can learn off each other, complimenting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For me, Kieran should be starting over Nacho. He was one of Arsenals best players last year, showing real threat in the attacking third, and being a steady component of a ever improving Arsenal defence, marshalled by a partnership of Koscienly and Mertesacker.
He has great timing in his tackles, has a great burst of pace, which is shown when he dives intelligently forward, making penetrating runs inside the penalty box.
He is composed on the ball, making an average of 41 passes every game, at a overall success ratio for the season 83.9%. This means that he knows what to do when he is on the ball, doesn’t panic like other players. He is a vital cog down the left side, supporting either Podolski or Cazorla in the final third, as he has a impressive cross on him, but the key for me with Gibbs is, he is always looking up in the final third, unlike say Sagna. This is highlighted by the fact that Gibbs often chooses to pass the ball to feet if the opportunities comes up, there are so many instances where this has happened, but I do want to keep this short and sweet.
A lot of talk over the last couple of years has been Arsenal’s weakness is their defensive work. Respectfully, I disagree, it is down to individual mistake’s, not the set up of the defence.
But, that is for enough debate. Defensively Gibbs is sound, a real important member of Arsenal’s, and, possibly England’s defence, present and future. He averages 2.8 tackles a game, and 2.4 interceptions a game. This shows he has a really good reading of the game, as his tackle’s and crucially interceptions are high for a full back.
Remarkably, he was only dribbled past 22 times last season, TWENTY TWO. Over a long season, that is really impressive and something that can and should only be admired.
If, and a big if, Gibbs can stay fit, for a prolonged period of time, getting himself a good run of games under his belt, he is going to have a really big future for Arsenal, and for England.
Also, on a personal note, this is my first article ever, but I am delighted it is for SatInRowZ.
Any feedback or comments, positive or negative, is welcome, and if you want to give me a follow on Twitter, you can find me at @BillyyAFC
Thank you for reading.
Stats via WhoScored