Even an Arsenal fan, who probably hates Ashley Cole, would tell you that he is one of the best left backs in the world. Kieran Gibbs is nearly ten years his junior and one of England’s brightest prospects. If it hadn’t been for a horror injury back in November last year Gibbs may have found himself travelling to South Africa this summer.
Gibbs fractured his metatarsal in the Champions League clash against Standard Liege last November, ruling him out for several months. Arsene Wenger described the injury as a “big hole in his foot” and the injury was so serious that he had to undergo an operation in January. With Ashley Cole being a doubt for the World Cup this could have been Gibbs’s chance to shine.
Gibbs started his football at Wimbledon’s academy but when the club disbanded in 2004 he made the move to Arsenal. He became a professional in September 2007 and was named in Arsenal’s 2007-2008 Champions League squad. This was a great achievement for a player who was still only 18.
He featured regularly for the England Under 19’s and has played consistently for the Under 21’s. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Arsene Wenger said: “I think he will one day play for the national team. I am convinced of that.” He is clearly seen as a talent by all those at Arsenal and it’s not just those at the club that have commended the young defender.
In an article back in 2009 Henry Winter, chief football correspondent at The Daily Telegraph, said Gibbs was “Pacey, sensible in possession. Will challenge Gael Clichy at Arsenal.” A lot is certainly expected of this young player, and he started out in a similar fashion to Ashley Cole.
Cole signed his professional contract at the age of 19 and an unfortunate injury to Sylvinho gave Cole his chance to step up to the first team. Even after Sylvinho’s recovery Cole remained as Wenger’s first choice left back. At Arsenal he won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup three times, not a bad feat.
There are clear similarities between the two players, unfortunately the problem for Gibbs other than his current injury, is Gael Clichy. When Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea in 2006 Clichy stepped up and became Wenger’s first choice left back. He has made the position his own and currently has 150 appearances for the Gunners. Gibbs will need to take any chance he can to show Wenger what he can do.
Fabio Capello, the man who holds the key to his England future also recognises his ability. Back in 2009 Capello said: “He’s a really good player, really interesting for the future of the England team, but he’s young and he has to play a really important game for the Under 21’s.”
He is held in the upmost regard by Arsene Wenger and Fabio Capello, he is a young English talent and maybe one day he will be England’s next Ashley Cole