Arsenal: Why Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson Have Arsenal's Future on Lock

Max TowleAnalyst ISeptember 12, 2012

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02:  Joe Allen of Liverpool is challenged by Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and  Arsenal at Anfield on September 2, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

That Arsenal are yet to concede in the Premier League, and have by far the most well-organised defence, is a fair reflection of the current form of full-backs Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson.

Whilst England throws around names like Ryan Bertrand and Leighton Baines as successors to Ashley Cole's left-back role in the national team, Gibbs has been quietly going about his business without much of a fuss.

Since debuting for the Gunners in 2007, Gibbs is yet to play a full season under manager Arsene Wenger.

His nightmare slip in the Champions League semi-final against Manchester United, and subsequent injury problems seemed to put him out of the minds of many outside The Emirates.

His excellent U21 form earned him a call-up to the national team in 2010—an honour well deserved considering his performances for Stuart Pearce.

But since then he has rarely featured for England under either Fabio Capello or Roy Hodgson.

However, forgetting about a youngster with the raw talent of Gibbs would be a considerable crime.

He has improved the positional awareness that may have troubled him in the past, whilst his tackling in recent games has been nothing short of superb—the defender was key last season in the stretch that catapulted Arsenal back into the top three.

He is quickly learning when to bomb down the left wing, fully utilising his pace and crossing ability to maximum effect.

Off the pitch, Kieran Gibbs is an affable, quiet sort-of lad who seems to have more common sense than the average footballer. He'd be the last player in the team to complain about big names leaving or lack of first team opportunities.

In July, he spoke with ESPN about the upcoming season with a positive mix of confidence and realism.

"Obviously, being the first-choice left-back for England is what I'm hoping to achieve," he admitted.

"First, I'm hoping to play one full season with the club with no injuries. Then, I'll look towards establishing myself on the international scene and who knows what will happen when the 2014 FIFA World Cup comes around."

Carl Jenkinson may have more of a battle on his hands for the right-back position when Bacary Sagna is back fighting fit.

A real fan of the club, Jenkinson grew up with Highbury legends adorning his wall (via Daily Mail).

Like Gibbs, he's had his fair share of early career setbacks—his nightmare game in the 8-2 loss at Old Trafford immediately springs to mind.

But the baby-faced defender has shown equal resolve in bouncing back, and has impressed many with the chances he's been given with his French counter-part on the sidelines.

Speaking to the club's website Tuesday, Jenkinson revealed, "I think it's only natural that the longer you're at a club, the more at home you feel (h/t

"My ambition for my whole career is to play for this football club. I want to be good enough and make my mark here. I won't be happy until I'm playing week-in, week-out. That's what I want to achieve."

Though he's perhaps not there quite yet, the steely ambition of the 20-year-old must be music to fans' ears.

His performance in the 2-0 win at Anfield earlier this month showed imperfections in his game, but a real determination to get stuck-in no matter the circumstances.

Though he may be a step behind Gibbs in terms of his ability to function with the rest of the back four and to read the game effectively, Jenkinson will only improve.

Under a boss like Wenger, what else is there for a youngster to do?


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