Player focus: Gibbs performs well once more when called upon

Kieran Gibbs made only his second Premier League start of the campaign during our Boxing Day victory over West Brom and once again proved why he is a credible replacement for Nacho Monreal, who is three years his elder and has struggled for consistency so far this term.

The 27-year-old left-back has excelled on a number of occasions when called upon, especially in a forward-thinking capacity where Arsène Wenger has asked him to play on the left-hand side of midfield off the substitutes’ bench.

His performance against the Baggies was no different, one where he impressed defensively and was a constant threat when going forward too. With four aerial duels won as well as five complete clearances during the 70 minutes he played, the Englishman proved an important presence in helping support Petr Cech to avoid many efforts on his goal.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 26: Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium on December 26, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

His passing was mainly accurate (81.4%) and although attempts at longer-distance passes were unsuccessful, he continued to good effect in the final third when he had possession. Three key passes in total was more than any other player on the pitch bar Mesut Özil’s impressive seven over the course of the match.

As illustrated by the player dashboard below, Gibbs was comfortable with possession and combined short passes alongside team-mates on the left throughout.

Gibbs created three clear-cut chances and was ever-present for Arsenal during a narrow win over West Brom. (Photo: FourFourTwo)

His booking was a harsh one by Neil Swarbrick after he took a heavy touch which meant he lost possession before an accidental collision with Claudio Yacob. He was in some discomfort and to avoid aggravation of his knock, the decision was made to replace him with 20 minutes remaining.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 26: Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs receives a yellow card during the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium on December 26, 2016. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

With fresh reports suggesting Sam Allardyce is targeting a possible January move for him, performances like these justify just how important it is that we retain him in the long-term. Not only as appreciation for the hard work he puts in weekly without fuss, but equally a sign of loyalty for a player who deserves regular minutes and is seriously pushing Nacho Monreal for a starting berth at present.

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