Guest post by George Nixon
You talk about selection dilemmas for managers all the time. Tottenham’s goalkeepers, Arsenal’s centre-backs, Manchester City’s strikers, but rarely has this sort of dilemma ever concerned Arsenal full backs. There are many reasons for this of course, Sagna may have been the best right back in the Premier League over the past few seasons but able deputies have been in short supply. Eboue may have been a crowd favourite, well until he was booed off the pitch by his own supporters of course, but as a right back he just wasn’t very good. It was the same story on the other side, since Cashley Cole left Gael Clichy was good enough, but as for back-ups? Well, we had an young, injury prone Kieran Gibbs, who himself was a converted winger, and behind him Armand Traore. The fact he is now 2nd choice Left back at QPR tells you all you need to know about his quality. So, until now we haven’t had serious selection problems at full back since the move to the Emirates.
Carl Jenkinson was awful last season, but then again he had barely played for Charlton Athletic, and had been out on loan to several non league clubs. Arsene Wenger’s decision to sign this young man was such a bad one, that one blog I read suggested that keeping Eboue would have been a better option than the signing of Corporal Jenkinson. We all know about his horror time at Old Trafford, but this season Jenkinson has filled the hole left by Bacary Sagna’s absence, and been one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers this season alongside Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker. Whether Jenkinson will keep his place at right back now Sagna is back remains to be seen [written before yesterday’s team selection], I’ve seen people say Sagna should come straight back in, but personally I’d prefer to see Sagna shifted across to left back until Gibbs’ return, as Andre Santos looks to be becoming another Eboue. Regardless of what happens, Corporal Jenkinson has been fantastic so far this season and looks to be developing into a fantastic right back in years to come, oh, and he’s a Gooner as well.
Kieran Gibbs is finally fulfilling his massive potential and blossoming into one of the best left backs in the league. In my opinion, only Leighton Baines has been better than Gibbs this season. He’s been defensively solid, something that I’d imagine is very much down to Steve Bould, a coach who quite clearly rates him, and this newfound defensive solidity has complemented his already incredible attacking prowess (think Southampton at home where he was unplayable) which you’d expect from someone who used to be a winger and was converted to a full back. His injury, in my opinion, has been one of the reasons we have looked so much less secure defensively, as Andre Santos simply hasn’t filled the gap the way Jenkinson has on the other side. He is the best young left back in the country, no Chelsea fans I don’t want to hear anything about Ryan Bertrand, and possibly best young full back in general.
So, we now have three top quality full backs, two of whom have been brilliant early on this season, and one who is the best right back in the league when fit. In theory Sagna should walk in, but Jenkinson has been fantastic and I wouldn’t want to be in Arsene Wenger’s position when they’re all fit. I’d like to see Jenkinson keep his place and Sagna at left back until Gibbs returns but what do you guys think? Bear in mind they’ll probably never all be fit at the same time, as this is the Arsenal and somebody’s bound to pick up a calf strain, or a fractured ankle.------------
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