There are a few positions Arsene Wenger may want to strengthen before the transfer window shuts, but left-back will certainly not be one of them. The first choice going into the new season will probably be Gael Clichy, but his understudy Kieran Gibbs has the ability to challenge him for the position in this campaign and give Arsene Wenger a selection dilemma of who he is going to play. Gibbs impressed for England on Wednesday night, he had a big impact when he came on and showed some good attacking flourishes. Although he is a undoubtedly a good left-back, Clichy does not always inspire absolute confidence in his defensive abilities, and he can be guilty of making mistakes that can lead to chances for the opposition. At 20 years of age Gibbs will want to be playing regular football and if he performs to his potential, he should have a good amount of playing opportunities this season.
Since Ashley Cole’s acrimonious departure to rivals Chelsea in 2006, Gael Clichy has firmly established himself as Arsenal’s first choice left-back. Clichy has abundant qualities; he is quick, athletic, good on the ball, and poses a buccaneering threat down the left flank, something that is so important in modern day football. However, he can occassionally be found wanting defensively and looks shaky at times; this often appears to be due to a drop in concentration. The fact is that although Clichy is an excellent player, he has not reached the same level as Arsenal’s previous left-back Ashley Cole. This would of course be a tough ask, Cole has been one of the world’s best in his position for years and is one of very few to play for England who has not disappointed. Arsenal though, may well have the natural successor to Ashley Cole already in their ranks.
Arsenal fans have been optimistic about the future of Kieran Gibbs for a couple of years now. Since making his Premier League debut against Tottenham Hotspur in February 2009, Gibbs has displayed immense potential. One thing that has been so impressive about the youngster is his absolute calmness. He has never looked phased by the big games, even when he slipped at a crucial moment in a Champions League semi-final leg against Manchester United, allowing them to score, he quickly recovered his composure and although Arsenal were well beaten, he did not disgrace himself. Many players might have had their confidence destroyed by this costly error, but Gibbs came back stronger and has never looked short of the confidence one needs to play for a top side. His international career has also just begun, and he performed well in his first England appearance on Wednesday night. It is my personal view that Gibbs has the potential to be a better player than Gael Clichy, but at the moment Clichy is more experienced and is still Arsenal’s best left-back, and it will be the correct call for him to start the season as first choice.
Arsene Wenger has never shied away from fielding young players, and if he thinks Kieran Gibbs will be a more effective player for Arsenal than Gael Clichy, he will play him. A full league season and a European campaign may be a little too much to ask from Gibbs at the moment, but he should be given a good amount of opportunities to play in these competitions in order to aid his development. Clichy will probably be the main left-back at Arsenal this season, but Kieran Gibbs should have a decent amount of games on which he can build. With Armand Traore also in the squad, one thing is for sure; Arsenal will not want for a left-back this season.