The Arsenal and England international defender Kieran Gibbs had to watch from the bench as the Gunners made the perfect start to the pre-season preparations with a comfortable 4-0 demolition of the Singapore XI but he will be hoping to start the final of the Barclays Asia trophy against Everton tomorrow.
Gibbs knows that he has a real fight on his hands with Nacho Monreal for the left back starting role next season and so he will be determined to impress Arsene Wenger. His own personal battle was not the only one that Gibbs talked about though. In a report in The Guardian the 25-year old revealed how the whole squad has toughened up.
Just over a year ago the Gunners were still being given the tag of big game bottlers or being accused of being all guile and no guts or grind. Gibbs did not deny this when asked but he did declare that the players have put this right. They have worked hard on this aspect of the game and have grown together into a much harder-to-beat unit, as we proved last season in games like the win away at Man City.
The Gunner said, “I think it’s already changed. Although people don’t see it like that, technically we’ve won three trophies in the last two seasons and there’s been a shift mentally in the team that will help us.
“What’s key is that we continue the form, continue the belief that we’ve shown over the last two years. I think the team has grown, if we can keep everyone fit, we can really aim for the league.”
The left back also explained that Arsenal are not really treating these pre-season games as meaningless friendlies and that the players are using them in order to hit the ground running and avoid the slow start that cost us so dearly last time.
He went on, “Pre-season is vital, especially this season. It starts in less than a month. We have these two games and two more before the Community Shield. We haven’t really got time for friendlies so we’ve got to get into a competitive mentality as fast as possible.”
Arsenal are definitely a tougher nut to crack these days but are we tough enough?