Saturday 18 November 2017

Arsene Wenger hits out at Kieran Gibbs over claim he'll become a better player after leaving Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. Photo: Carl Recine
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. Photo: Carl Recine

Jon West

Arsene Wenger has taken issue with Kieran Gibbs’ claim he will become a better player now he has left Arsenal, insisting that few players go on to bigger and better things once they leave the club.

Gibbs, 27, joined the Gunners as a teenager but his lengthy association with the north London club was brought to an end this summer when he left to join West Bromwich Albion. Like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who claimed his £40 million move to Liverpool would help him take his game “to the next level”, Gibbs believes his switch to the midlands club will inject fresh momentum into his career.

Wenger, though, has questioned how often his former players prosper ahead of Gibbs’ return to the Emirates Stadium tonight with his new club.

“Once someone takes the decision to leave I wish them well and focus on my squad, but just look at the performances of the players who left us and then come back to me about it,” said Wenger.

Learning is an attitude in life. It doesn’t depend on your geographical status, but more of the attitude in your brain. Are you ready to question yourself every day to see if you can improve? Kieran Gibbs became an England international here. He was a regular player many times but he had some fitness worries so we didn’t offer him a new deal and that’s why he decided to go.

“You should ask him what he means about being a better defender at West Brom. He will certainly have to defend more because we are a team that goes forward and they are a team who focus more on defending.”

Gibbs was earmarked as the successor to Ashley Cole but Wenger concedes a succession of injury problems stalled those plans. “Kieran had more health problems than Ashley Cole, who had a frail aspect but a tough body,” added the manager. “Sometimes Ashley had ankle problems but he still played. He played 50 games a year and Kieran had more injury problems than him. It will seem strange to see Kieran in a different shirt because he was educated here from a very young age so I am sure he will have great motivation for this game.”

Mesut Ozil is set to return following a knee problem.

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