Arsene Wenger has praised the development of young defensive duo Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson and stressed that only with a consistent run in the first team have they been able to show their true potential.
Both Gibbs and Jenkinson suffered lengthy injuries last term, although for the former a prolonged spell on the sidelines was nothing new despite his fledgling career.
“He was out a lot but now he has found stability in his performances,” Wenger told press in his pre-Olympiakos press conference.
“Gael Clichy had the same problem. He went through a long period of injury and after that he stabilised physically. That’s what Kieran is doing at the moment.
“I am very happy with his performances because he is like Carl – in every game he gets stronger.”
There’s little doubt that Jenkinson, who sat alongside Wenger as the duo faced the press, has hugely benefitted from knowing he is first choice at right-back while Bacary Sagna is injured. The boss though puts his young charge’s improvement, and that of Gibbs, down to full involvement in pre-season.
“This year they have benefitted from the fact they had a good preparation.
“Carl has as well gained one year’s experience compared to last season. He came from Charlton and was straight away thrown into the Champions League. You can say that from game to game now he grows because it is linked with confidence.
“You need first to know that you belong there. Once you know that you can express yourself and then you see that in every game there is more coming out of him.”
That Jenkinson and Gibbs have played the most games of anyone in the Arsenal squad this season (six in total alongside Podolski, Cazorla, and Mikel Arteta) certainly tells a story in itself.
Fair play to the boys, they’ve certainly taken their chance to impress and with so much room for improvement it looks as though the long-term future is bright on either side of the defence.