Will this be the year for Kieran Gibbs to shine?
I felt more than a bit gutted for Kieran Gibbs this summer. Hodgson had decided to leave the experienced Cole behind for the World Cup in Brazil, leaving him with two spaces for the LB position. He decided to take with him Baines and Shaw, who both had good seasons in the PL; and he left out our fine full back Gibbs, who also had more than a decent season.
I fully understand why Hodgson opted for Baines. He had already played over twenty times for England and had been one of Everton’s best players. But to opt for Shaw instead of Gibbo seemed to me to be a populist choice. And so is the crazy money the Mancs have paid for his services to the Saints this summer, but that is another matter.
No doubt Shaw can become a great player, but KG03 is well ahead of him. He will be 25 next month and he has 25 ‘CL caps’ under his belt. Kieran now plays with a maturity and control that gives both stability to the defence and impetus to the attack. In case Baines would have been injured or suspended, Gibbs would have been a far better option than the inexperienced and at times over zealous Shaw.
But it is fair to say Gibbo is not fully there yet. He keeps threatening to break through but has not been too lucky on the injury front during his career. But finally he is getting more games under his belt with now having played in about 75% of all PL games over the last two seasons. In fact, last season he played for the first time over 40 competitive games (28 PL, 5 FA, and 8 CL games) and he even scored his first goal for the club.
Where Kieran now needs to break through is in the attacking part of his position: one goal and one assist are not much of a return in one season.
We can see he desperately wants to break through: he occasionally looks exasperated when fellow attackers do not read his pass or fail to find him when he makes a fine, covert run into the box. The way Arsenal play, and in fact most top teams now do, the FBs need to be dynamic, good readers of the game, and be as good at defending as at going forward, and support the attack more or less constantly. They also need to be demanding and confident, and I am hoping that the somewhat introvert Gibbo will make himself heard more this season – not so much at the back where he has been mostly solid, but definitely when supporting the attack.
We all have high hopes for Ox and Jack, but I am now equally hopeful that Kieran will finally get it all together and become that force he has been threatening to be for a long time.
I hope for him he will get a steady partner on the left wing, who will help him as much in defence as he will help his partner in attack. He looked good for a while when he was linked up with Pod, but the German is unlikely to become a regular starter next season.
IF indeed Sanchez ends up on the left wing eventually (after Theo returns), The Chilean maestro and Gibbs could become a strong tandem on that side of the team, with good support – in attack and defence – from the fantastic Ramsey as well. If both can stay fit for a long time and work on their partnership, we should see strong performances by KG03 every week. I, for one, will keep supporting him in every game and let’s all hope that our fine full back will finally come good in 2014-2015.
At 25, and after a frustrating WC summer behind the TV, this is his moment.
Written by: TotalArsenal.