Kieran Gibbs is having arguably the best start to the season of his career at the Emirates Stadium.
The 23-year-old left back has been putting in some terrific performances so far, which have led to suggestions that he could be pushing Chelsea’s Ashley Cole and Everton’s Leighton Baines for a place in the England setup in no time.
His performances have certainly created a striking resemblance to the way Cole used to play for the North London side, producing the question of how good Gibbs could actually be with a long, consistent run in the Arsenal first team.
Gibbs looks as though he’s finally going to get a long run of games this season which will produce a set of stats which can be used against what Cole produced in 20 starts during his first campaign with the Gunners.
Gibbs is certainly one of the quickest full backs in the league. Able to get forward in similar fashion to Cole to provide extra width for Arsenal, while also utilising that speed to get back into position.
When he does find himself in that left back position, he’s having more of an effect physically this season than Cole in terms of making tackles with a marginally higher average per game and substantially more interceptions per game.
The other important factor in Gibbs’ development is the fact that he’s now involved in Champions League football against a generally higher calibre of opposition. That’s going to refine his game at both ends of the field further.
The next step for him in becoming a better left back than Cole is for him to win that England chance and make the most of it.
If he continues his impressive start to the season towards the winter then he’ll be putting himself into a great position to be named in the England squad for the World Cup next summer, putting pressure on Leighton Baines, the current back up to Cole at national level.
Again, that’s going to have a positive impact on his development in relation to subjecting him a higher standard of football, which will make him a better player.
One of the areas where Cole will always be considered a better player at the moment is his record of winning silverware.
He made the switch to Chelsea when he saw signs that a dip in Arsenal’s chances of success was coming and it’s been justified because he’s won the Champions League and several other trophies at Stamford Bridge.
Gibbs will never become a better left back than Cole is he’s playing in a side that isn’t winning trophies on a regular basis.
He’s made nearly a third of the starts already that he made last season and just as many already as he made during the 2011/2012 season. It’s all up to him to prove that consistency and to force his way into Roy Hodgson’s plans now he’s finally nailed down a starting place.
What have you made of Gibbs so far this season?
image: © Ronnie Macdonal