When Arsene Wenger said at the start of the season that he would not be sending Jack Wilshere out on loan, I was surprised and I thought it might turn out to be a mistake by the Arsenal manager.
I did not think Wilshere would get regular games and I believed he might be better served being loaned out to another Premier League club where he would get more playing time. I have since been proved wrong, Wilshere has played a significant role in Arsenal’s start to the season and has played more than I expected him to, this partly due to injuries but it is also due to the 18 year old proving he is a supremely gifted footballer, and that he looks more than comfortable in the Arsenal midfield. So is it now time for another young talent in the form of Kieran Gibbs to enter the Premier League fray?
In his fledgling professional career Kieran Gibbs has already shown that he his a very talented football player. Defenders typically break through at an older age than attackers, but Gibbs has shown he is a composed, disciplined full-back who is capable of dealing with the pressure of playing for a club like Arsenal. He may have made a costly error in the Champions League against Manchester United a few years back but it would be harsh to blame him for what was a slip that could have happened to many a top class player. In fact Gibbs displayed the resilience and mental fortitude required to make it at the top level and recover from mistakes in subsequent games, and it was very impressive for a player of such a young age.
All the signs point towards the fact that Gibbs looks like he is going to become a top class left-back. He has all the qualities the modern full-back needs, he is quick, athletic, strong defensively and also offers a threat going forward, I would not want to put too much pressure on Gibbs but I believe he is the natural successor to Ashley Cole for England and for Arsenal. Now at 21 years of age though, Gibbs is going to need to start playing regularly if his career is not going to stall and to begin progressing as a footballer.
The man standing in front of him is Gael Clichy. The Frenchman took over as Arsenal’s first choice left-back after Ashley Cole left for Chelsea and has not looked back since. Clichy has many of the qualities that are needed by a top class left-back but he is not the player Ashley Cole was and I would not say that his position in the team is impregnable. I have been impressed by Clichy’s start to the season but he can be guilty of getting caught out positionally and he does have the odd lapse in concentration.
I actually think that Kieran Gibbs has the potential to be better than Gael Clichy, but he will need to start playing games regularly if he is going to fulfill this. Clichy is first choice at the moment and that is fine, but perhaps Wenger should consider giving Gibbs a few more starts, some would argue that this might disrupt the cohesion of the defence but such is Gibbs ability that I think he have no problem slotting in and playing well with his fellow defenders. Clichy is top of the pecking order now, but if Gibbs can get a few more games under his belt he can definitely put pressure on the Frenchman, and this can only be a positive thing for Arsenal.