Wenger confident over Gibbs ability

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 tonight's Champions League clash at the Emirates Stadium.

It is a role familiar to the England Under-21 international, whom national team manager Fabio Capello admits is in his thoughts ahead of next summer's World Cup finals.

Despite the disappointment of a high-profile slip which proved costly during the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Manchester United, for the most part Gibbs has not looked out of place when filling in for Clichy - the Frenchman having been missing for the closing months of last season, also because of a back problem.

While Wenger would have preferred to give Gibbs more experience in smaller doses, such as the Carling Cup, the Arsenal manager believes the young defender is more than ready to make the step up.

"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," he said.

"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 tonight.

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," Wenger declared.

"However, you do not have to confuse confidence with arrogance.

"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."

AZ boss Ronald Koeman will relish the challenge of frustrating Wenger once again - but admits his side face a difficult task.

The Dutch coach has yet to lose a contest with the Gunners boss.

Indeed the former Netherlands defender - who scored the goal which won Barcelona the 1992 European Cup at Wembley - masterminded a famous result when in charge of PSV Eindhoven on his last visit to the Emirates Stadium during March 2007, when a late goal from Alex, now at Chelsea, saw the Gunners crash out 2-1 on aggregate.

However, Koeman, 46, accepts the challenge ahead with AZ - who are struggling to recapture the form which saw them win the Eredivisie title last season - is completely different.

"Of course, I remember one moment with PSV, when we played out a 1-1 draw, which was enough to beat Arsenal at that time," he said.

"However, we are now a few years later.

"This game is the most difficult one of all six group games we will have to play."

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film
films

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album