Kieran Gibbs says he has never felt better about his football.
Coming off a season in which he achieved career highs in both assists and matches played, the Gunners left-back told Arsenal Magazine that 2012-13 was the “strongest” campaign for him, personally, and that he fully expects to pick up where he left off when the North London club opens their upcoming Premier League schedule against Aston Villa on August 17.
“I’ve had my most productive season, so I have to be happy,” he says, adding, “I’ve played quite a few games, which was due to good fitness, and have contributed to the team. I feel that, when I have played, I’ve made an impact.”
Despite his 23 Premier League starts last term, Gibbs will still have to fight for his place in manager Arsene Wenger’s first team. Spain international Nacho Monreal was acquired from Malaga in January for just over £8 million, so while Gibbs may be Arsenal’s left-back of the future he will still have to battle the 27-year-old for first-team football.
It’s a challenge he relishes.
“I believe strongly in this team now,” he says. “Next season we have to focus on every detail and on being professional in every single way so that we give ourselves the best chance of producing something. We are desperate to get a trophy under our belts.”
To that end, the 23-year-old understands a top-four finish, while impressive, is not the same as winning a piece of silverware, and he says the way in which he and his teammates were “jumping around” after beating Newcastle on the final day of the season is not a position they want to be in again.
“We all know that we haven’t actually won anything,” he says. “We are aware that we need to produce next season and have to make sure we are confident about dealing with that expectation.”
And he fully intends to be a key part of whatever Arsenal achieve in the coming months.
“[Last season] was a stepping stone for me,” he says. “And now I just need to build and stay fit. I am sure I can do more for the team.”
The July edition of the Official Arsenal Magazine is out now. To order, visit arsenal.com/magazine