Has Kieran Gibbs served his apprenticeship?

Arsenal have had a pretty good recent track record with left backs, with Ashley Cole going on to become arguably the best left back in the world at the moment and Gael Clichy (perhaps excluding this season) has been one of the best Premier League players in his position over recent seasons. Throughout this period, Arsenal fans have been promised an up-and-coming England starlet who will go on to make the Arsenal left back position his own, for years to come, just like Nigel Winterburn; as of yet the Gunners faithful are still waiting for Kieran Gibbs to really make that permanent break through into the starting eleven though, but why?

Gibbs has suffered more injuries than most for someone so young; in the 2009-10 season he broke his metatarsal against Standard Liege, sidelining him for the season. The injury couldn’t have been timed worst for the young Gunner, just as Clichy was out for a several weeks and Gibbs had begun to make the left back spot his own.

The young Englishman has made forty starting appearances for Arsenal since 2007 and has shown throughout this period that he has the pace, intelligence, anticipation and technique to become a great footballer; surely now, with injuries behind him and Clichy’s form and commitment being criticised on a regular basis, it is time for Wenger to do what he does so well, and give the ‘Young Guns’ a chance. Which begs the question as to why Le Professeur hasn’t used the Englishman frequently, as of yet?

Perhaps it is because, on a couple of occasions over the seasons, Kieran Gibbs has lacked certain elements of an experienced professional. I’m referring to Gibbs’ costly slip-up against Manchester United in the Champions League in 2009; admittedly errors are still part of even the most experienced pro’s game, but it is their ability to not let such things affect their whole game which separates them from the rest. Yet a clearly distraught Gibbs was substituted at half time, showing an inability to cope which may cross Wenger’s mind whenever playing Gibbs, however, surely it is playing the Englishman that boosts confidence and allows for the player’s development in such scenarios? A man of Wenger’s experience would know this, so there must be another issue.

It could be argued that perhaps Gibbs is getting ahead of himself, having already received an England call up; a fate that previous footballers have fallen victim to. Francis Jeffers springs to mind, the former Everton man made his England debut against Australia and scored, but this was to be his only cap and the former Arsenal man now plays for Motherwell, another player with unfulfilled potential. I’m not for one minute suggesting Gibbs will end up playing for Newcastle United Jets at the age of 28 but its certainly food for thought for the youngster, so perhaps Wenger is just biding his time with the youngster and easing the left back into the first team setup?

At the age of 21, Gibbs will soon be approaching his prime as a footballer, and with the continual transfer circus surrounding the last Invincible, Clichy, Gibbs will no doubt be thrust into the limelight should his team mate move onto pastures new, this time I’m sure he will swim.

Is Gibbs the next Ashley Cole? Let me know on Twitter

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