When Gael Clichy left for Manchester City in 2011, the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, somewhat surprisingly, did not go for a direct replacement for the Frenchman and instead opted to promote a 21-year-old Kieran Gibbs as the first-choice left-back. Despite his inexperience, the Gunners academy product took to the field with supreme confidence and produced some good performances. For a short while, it seemed as though Arsenal had found the new Ashley Cole.
But six years on, the Englishman has failed to live up to the early hype and is struggling to break into the Gunners’ first-team. Issues with injuries and consistency have constantly plagued the defender and there is a lot of speculation on his future beyond the season. However, Arsene Wenger did confirm that Gibbs will be one of the players who will be offered renewed terms to stay at the Emirates, with Spaniard Nacho Monreal likely to leave to make space for Arsenal-bound Schalke man Sead Kolasinac, although the deal has not quite been confirmed yet.
Quite honestly, I feel Gibbo has been given too much time. Even at 27 years of age, he still has not found his feet at the club and his issues with fitness and consistency do not make his situation any better. While he is great going forward, perhaps the biggest downside of his game is his lack of positional awareness at the back, which he has shown numerous times times in the past. It’s a pity really, considering that ability-wise, he has everything it takes to be a top left-back.
And perhaps that is the reason why Wenger continues to have faith in the player, apart from the fact that he counts as a homegrown player as well. But now that he is at the age which is considered as the prime of a footballer’s career, he really needs to step up. In the best case scenario, he will be given another season or two. So if Kieran Gibbs wants to make a mark in the Arsenal team, the best time would be now.