Posted on Wednesday, 26th January 2011 by Alastair Bayliss
Perennially injured, yet possessor of rare talent, the fate of Kieran Gibbs in the current Arsenal squad is still unknown.
On one-side of the scale is a rich future as the left-back of a title challenging side, and on the other is a future as an occasional stand-in for a more senior player. So, which side of the scale shall rise and which shall fall is the raging question.
There is no doubt that the Lambeth born full-back has an ability which is unmatched by the vast majority of other young players in the country. Gibbs lacks little with regard to technical ability, and going forward, he has already surpassed Gael Clichy in terms of his crossing and shooting. However, It does have to be appreciated, that a left-back has to defend properly above all else, and it is in this part of the game that he is still inferior to the Frenchman. Many Arsenal fans will remember his slip to allow Ji-Sung Park to score in the Champions League Semi-Final of 2009, before being hauled off at half time to prevent him from receiving further punishment.
That particular game was eighteen months ago. Yet one would have thought that a player as talented and as young as Gibbs would have progressed markedly in that period, but this is where his injury record has hampered him immensely. At this point in time, Gibbs seems to have a complex which entails that he cannot finish any game where he plays without picking up some kind of knock. Sometimes the injury is severe enough to force him off during the game, like in the Carling Cup tie away at Newcastle, but often the damage that he sustains is only fully understood when Wenger informs the media that he will be out for yet another significant period of time. It is difficult to remember the last press conference when the manager did not make reference to his fitness.
Herein lies the crux of the issue. It would seem unlikely that under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger that Kieran Gibbs would not improve as a defender with age, but there is nothing Arsenal’s esteemed manager can do to help him if he is never fit enough to partake in matches. This shall surely define Gibbs’ future at the club – should he remain healthy, one would back him to eventually displace Gael Clichy, who whilst not being a poor player, is not so competent that his place shall never be in question. Jack Wilshere has already proven that age or experience is not necessarily the determining factor when it comes to team selection. If Kieran Gibbs shows enough in his playing time and training, he stands every chance of usurping Clichy from the left-back position.
So his fate is undecided, and shall not have a conclusion for a while yet. At just 21 years of age, at least he has time on his side. Whether he becomes good enough to replace Gael Clichy is currently an unanswerable question, but Kieran Gibbs, along with all the Arsenal fans, will be hoping that his injury record improves so that he can finally make his presence felt.
Be apart of the Birmingham City v West Ham game tonight – Try your luck at winning some real cash on PICKLIVE
Click on the image below to get involved
Follow me on Twitter – http://twitter.com/Ali_Bayliss
Visit and Join our Facebook page, click HERE to do so