Arsene Wenger has hailed Kieran Gibbs after the England international made his 100th appearance for the Gunners in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Reading.
Claiming the 23-year-old is now amongst the top three left backs in the country, the boss highlighted the Academy product’s progression this season highlighting a ‘step up’ in performance despite the fact he’s been in around the first team since 2008/09.
Facing the press after Gibbs’ landmark appearance, made as sub for Nacho Monreal, Wenger talked in glowing terms of the player’s increasing authority on the pitch.
“I think this season has been, despite the fact that he was in doubt for a while, a step up season for him. He has improved a lot, has put his personality into the games, which was sometimes a bit of a problem for him.
“He has authority, he is decisive going forward, and in games where we were struggling a bit like Swansea in the cup he turned up and was the one who brought the pressure on the opponent.
“Even at Munich when he had been out for six weeks he came straight back in and had a very decent game. For me he has moved into the top three left backs in the country.”
Given his history of injuries and the acquisition of Spanish international Monreal questions were raised in January about Gibbs’ future as the club’s number one left-back.
While he certainly has a battle on his hands, even if the ‘threat’ of Andre Santos has been overcome, Wenger stressed that Gibbs is ready to fight for his place.
“He is ready for the fight,” Wenger continued. “I did it [buy Monreal] because I believe you never know with only one left back. You need two. And as well because both can play one in front of the other, so there’s an opportunity to use them both in some games.”
Arseblog News tips a cap in the direction of Gibbs [a Dubai-stationed yacht’s captain’s hat since you ask] in recognition of his centurion status and wishes him well for the rest of the season. If Monreal’s bruised hip keeps him out this weekend he’ll return to the first team at West Brom on Saturday; the location of THAT block which last season sealed Champions League football.