Kieran Gibbs had another sort of half-year for Arsenal, playing 22 matches in total, 16 in the league. He scored twice, once in the Carling Cup and once in the league. 22 is actually the most total performances the young English left back has been able to put in for a season, and one wonders what he might be like at this point if injuries didn't keep him on the sidelines. Anyway, come with us below the jump for more!
Ted: I think Gibbs is a perfectly fine left back when, and this is kind of a big "when", when he's healthy. He combines well with whoever is playing on the left of the attack, he makes intelligent runs inside when necessary, and he crosses pretty well. And although it's hard to know this in any meaningful, quantifiable sense, he always seems to be putting in a top effort, even if he comes up short. He has come a ways from the youth who slipped to allow Manchester United to batter Arsenal in the Champions League semi-final; rare are his defensive mistakes now. And then, of course, there was The Tackle...
After the block/tackle he made, I find it hard to find many faults with Kieran Gibbs. When fit, he was pretty good, going forward effectively but also showing a fairly good defensive understanding. He still has some things to sort out, but remember, Gibbs is still 22. Like many defenders, getting an understanding with the rest of the back 4 will only help. And as someone who's come through the system, he knows what it meant for Arsenal to not just finish in the Champions League places, but also to finish ahead of North London's Elite Lead Blowers, as shown by not only the block but the general "throwing yourself at everything" attitude Gibbs showed in the final minutes at West Brom. And for that, I can't do anything else but give him a high grade.
Grade: B+ (before WBA), A- (after WBA)
Thomas: With a 38-game campaign, after hours and hours of football, it's tough to say that one moment was really key, but I feel confident saying that Kieran Gibbs saved our season. With a last-second sliding tackle in the box as time ran out against West Brom, Gibbs prevented a shot that (knowing this team) had a decent chance of being an equalizer. Knowing what we know now (and what I feared at the time), if that hadn't happened, we'd be out of the Champions League. And for that - after a season of pretty good but inconsistent play marred by long injuries - I can't go against him. Now does anyone have some horse placenta, so he could maybe play a whole season unharmed?
Grade: Third place
Paul: When people talk about the Arsenal youth policy, they’re talking about Kieran Gibbs. Not specifically, I guess – Gibbs is a person, not a policy – but Gibbs is pretty much the embodiment of the kind of promising young player Wenger has signed in the last few seasons. Gibbs has risen through the ranks started to be more of a presence in the Arsenal first team this year, making 22 appearances, and he does many things very well, and will probably grow to be an indispensable part of the Arsenal defense in the next year or two. And oh yeah, there was that Champions League-place-saving block at the end of the West Brom game. As with several other Arsenal defenders, though, he has a really annoying habit of straying out of position and getting hung out to dry because of it – he likes to go forward, but sometimes forgets that as a defender his first job is to stay back. If he can curb his wanderlust, he’s going to be really good.
Grade: A- (higher than it should be, probably, but he gets extra credit for singlehandedly putting Arsenal in the Champions League next year)
What say you?