Gibbs will return to Champions League action this evening, with Arsenal hosting Monaco looking to ease their passage into the next knockout stage of the tournament.
Arsenal have a solid record in the tournament, progressing to the knockout stages on many occasions, but they have not had the success in Europe that Arsene Wenger brought to domestic football. A final loss in 2006 is all that the Gunners have to show for their efforts, and Gibbs has told the Standard that winning the tournament for Wenger has given the players extra motivation to succeed.
Three Premier League and five FA Cup victories will ensure that Wenger goes down in history as an illustrious coach, but two late Barcelona goals in that 2006 final prevented the Gunners from claiming continental victory, and the North London club have not come that close since.
Facing Monaco this evening, Wenger has an added motivation to defeat the French club, having spent seven years in charge of the principality club prior to joining the Gunners. Arsenal are certainly in a good position to secure progress to the quarter-finals, having won 12 of their last 15 fixtures, and it would come as a surprise to see them fall out of the competition at the last-16 stage for the fifth successive season.
It will certainly be a challenge for the Gunners to seriously contend for the competition as a whole, with a wealth of talent to face if their intend to reach the final, let alone win it, but Gibbs has admitted that the players will be extra motivated to win the whole thing to ensure Wenger can finally claim Europe’s premier trophy.
Speaking to the Standard, the England international said: “It is the one thing the players would choose to win for him over anything else. It is big for us but probably biggest for him. You can tell he is desperate to win it. He is really excited by the Champions League — it is probably his favourite competition.
“We analyse the teams very thoroughly and he just speaks about it as a special competition to be involved in. We want to do well for him.”