FOOTBALL : Arsene Wenger is confident youngster Kieran Gibbs will thrive in an unexpected run at left-back in the first team.
Arsene Wenger is confident youngster Kieran Gibbs will thrive in an unexpected run at left-back in the first team.
With Gael Clichy set for an extended spell on the sidelines following a stress fracture to his lower back, 20-year-old Gibbs will start against AZ Alkmaar in Wednesday night’s Champions League clash at the Emirates Stadium.
“I was very comfortable to have a solution to rest Clichy when it was needed and play Gibbs. Now suddenly there is a huge stress on Gibbs to play in every game,” said Wenger.
“Capello and England will be happy because they want him to play of course, but it is still a blow for us to lose Clichy.”
Wenger, though, declared: “I have no doubt about the quality of Gibbs, and I have said that many times.”
The Gunners kept up the pressure on leaders Chelsea and Manchester United with a 3-0 win over north-London rivals Tottenham, and could move into the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition with victory.
Arsenal have a match in hand on both Chelsea and United, who clash on Sunday, while the Blues travel to the Emirates Stadium at the end of the month.
Russian playmaker Andrey Arshavin believes the current 11-match unbeaten run is evidence Arsenal’s young side have shown they can compete for top honours. Wenger is content to see such determination, and believes, channelled correctly, it can only be positive.
“I am happy with the confidence. However, you do not have to confuse confidence with arrogance,” said Wenger.
“The confidence comes from that we are in this job to try to win, and I am very happy that the players believe they can do it.”