Position : Left-Back
Nation : England
2011/2012 Appearances : 22 (2 as sub)
One among a long line of impressive line of left-backs in the Arsenal production line, which includes Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and Armand Traore; Kieran Gibbs is already considered as a bright prospect for the future. Quick, decisive, and pacy, he is already touted as a future England international.
His season has been blighted with injury, and competition for spots with Brazilian left-back Andre Santos. He started off with a dogged performance at Newcastle, and started the next match against Udinese, where he suffered a hamstring injury and had to be taken off, minutes after the second half started. Gibbs returned in the 1-0 win over Swansea, where he put in an impressive display.
He wasn’t as lucky though against Dortmund, despite having a good game, against the German wonderkid Mario Gotze. His hesitant clearance fell to Ivan Perisic, who scored the equalizer in the dying minutes. An unused sub in the Blackburn loss, he started and scored a headed goal in a 3-1 win over Shrewsbury.
He put in a mixed performance against Bolton. A couple of errors would have proven costly, but in the end Arsenal won 3-0. A late sub in the 2-1 win over Olympiakos, he put in a gritty display against Tottenham, a game which Arsenal went on to lose 2-1. He suffered an injury in the league game against Stoke, which would keep him out for a good part of 5 months.
He returned, and was thrust into the first team, in the big match at the San Siro, which Arsenal lost 4-0 on a boggy pitch. He put in an efficient display on the left, though defensive lapses cost the team as a whole. He played with good intensity against Tottenham, which Arsenal won 5-2. He was slightly involved in Sp*rs second goal, when Bale dived, off a Szczesny challenge, with Gibbs for close attention.
Gibbs played a major role in keeping out Liverpool, with some tenacious defending. He should have definitely done better with the goal conceded though, when Henderson, in acres of space, to force a Koscielny own goal. He followed this up, with another fine display against AC Milan, though El Shaarawy managed to escape his attentions a couple of times. Hatem Ben Arfa too exploited the space afforded to him by Gibbs, in the 2-1 over Newcastle.
Royston Drenthe contrived to give the young left-back some problems, but failed to do so, as Gibbs put in another good display against Everton. He would go on to score in his next match against Aston Villa, but was at fault in giving Jamie Mackie too much space and time, in the loss to QPR. A fine display against Manchester City was to follow, before he was rested to accomodate Andre Santos. He returned against Chelsea, and in a negative display from the Gunners, he did look caught out numerous times, by Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres.
He was given a good runaround by former Jermaine Pennant, but looked comfortable in dealing with the winger. He struggled a bit against an adventurous Norwich City. A cross from Kyle Naughton, on Gibbs’ flank allowed Hoolahan to equalize early on. And Arsenal were outnumbered for the second goal, 2 to 3, when Grant Holt’s shot, looped over Szczesny after striking Gibbs in the foot. He was again caught out of position when Norwich scored their 3rd.
He, however, made the most important tackle this season, for Arsenal, when he blocked a late West Brom shot, as Arsenal secured a 3-2 win at the Hawthorns.
How has Kieran Gibbs done this season? Let’s take a look.
Gibbs is a good clean defender, in the mould of Cole and Clichy, and isn’t too fazed by pacy wingers, which makes him a good left-back. He rarely gives away free-kicks, in dangerous positions, and rarely gives away the ball.
An area that needs a lot of working upon. He has been caught out of position numerous times this season. While he does go forward a lot, it leaves the team open to quick counters on both flanks.
As any other good full-back, Gibbs is a good crosser of the ball. What he also does well is move inwards to link with the attack. His play in the final third can improve though.
SUMMARY AND RATING
If fit, Gibbs is the first choice left-back, as he gives the team more defensively, than the adventurous Santos. However, with few improvements in his game, Arsenal will have a better defence, than the porous one now. He gets a rating of 7.5.