By Chris Harris

Mikel Arteta has paid tribute to two of the unsung heroes of Arsenal's unbeaten start to the campaign - the full backs.

Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson have been ever-presents this season, helping Arsène Wenger's team keep Sunderland, Stoke and Liverpool at bay before Arsenal's defence was finally breached in the 6-1 win over Southampton last weekend.

Gibbs claimed two assists in that match while Jenkinson set up the winner for Gervinho at Montpellier in midweek as the Gunners got off to a winning start in the Champions League.

Arteta has been hugely impressed by both defenders. "I think they’ve been very consistent," he told Arsenal Player.

"I think Gibbsy has been playing really well. I think he’s finding himself more comfortable going forwards. He’s rapid and can make a big difference. It’s tough for a wide man to defend [against] a full back like him. 

"Carl is finding himself more comfortable. He’s had four or five games under his belt, he’s done a whole pre-season with us and you can see he’s confident. Against Montpellier he put a brilliant cross in for Gervinho to score the goal.

"That’s what we need because we’re missing players. When you’re replacing someone like Bac [Sagna] it’s not easy because you’re under a lot of pressure. I think they’ve been really good.

"The challenge is to maintain the level and to keep up to the high level. I think that’s very difficult, but Carl’s done that in the last few games and hopefully he can maintain that."

Arteta will soon have more competition for his own place when Jack Wilshere returns from his long-term injury lay-off. The Spaniard expects Arsenal's level to rise again when the England international returns.

"I think it’s going to be a big boost for everyone," said Arteta. "He’s going to raise the quality in training. The fans – they’ve been waiting a long time.

"I know what it means when you’ve been out for a long time. You can see how excited Jack is to get back in training and show how good a player he is. He’s going to bring something different to the squad - more quality to the team - and that can only be better for everyone."

Watch the full interview with Mikel on Arsenal Player now.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
20 Sep 2012