By Richard Clarke

Kieran Gibbs’ slate has been wiped clean. Arsène Wenger says he has forgotten that crucial mistake in last season’s Champions League Semi-Final.

The rookie left back slipped after only eight minutes of the second leg at Emirates Stadium and presented a simple chance to Ji-Sung Park. With Manchester United already leading 1-0 from the first game, an away goal all but sealed the tie.

It was a massive moment for Gibbs. Last month, the England Under-21 international admitted to Arsenal TV Online that, in the immediate aftermath, he had struggled to come to terms with it.

However Wenger argues that, in retrospect, it was good Arsenal had to rely on Gibbs straight after that game. And they will be doing the same thing for the next month as Gael Clichy has just been sidelined with a back problem.

“I don’t remember him for the mistake against Manchester United,” said the manager ahead of Wednesday’s game with Alkmaar. “After that he played and he played well so for me it is forgotten.

“The luck he had was that Clichy was injured so he played again three days later. If we’d have had Clichy coming back then sometimes you’d say ‘OK give him a breather’ and he would not have played until the end of the season.”

Undoubtedly Wenger has faith in Gibbs. So much so that he was going to rotate him and Clichy throughout the next few months. But now the responsibility will rest squarely on the shoulders of the 20-year-old.

“For us, Clichy is a blow because it exposes Gibbs every three days and we move into a period where he would have played naturally anyway,” said Wenger. “You rotate a little bit more when you move into November. Clichy will be out for one month or two months and that is too much.”

Gibbs, you feel, can cope.

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4 Nov 2009