By Chris Harris
Kieran Gibbs is revelling in his more advanced role on Arsenal's left flank.
The 23-year-old - Gibbs celebrated his birthday on Wednesday - has always been an attack-minded defender after starting his career as a winger. But this season he has been further forward than usual.
Gibbs' average position in the 0-0 draw at Stoke was more advanced than striker Lukas Podolski's. The England international says that is not just down to his instincts.
“The boss is always telling me, ever since pre-season, to play high and wide and stretch the team, to let the midfielders have more room," Gibbs told Arsenal Player.
"It’s part of my game as well and I feel I play the game how I think it should be played. That’s probably where that comes from.
“I feel my performances have been positive this season," added Gibbs. "I’ve kept fit which has been important for me - especially over the last couple of years where I struggled to stay fit.
"I always said if I can get a good run of games under my belt, I can always get stronger and hopefully be more consistent - which is what I’m doing at the minute. I’m happy to be fit and I’m happy to be playing.”
The next test for Gibbs and Arsenal comes in the shape of Olympiacos on Wednesday night. The left back helped his team get off to a winning start in Montpellier earlier this month and he expects another tough task at Emirates Stadium.
“We know Olympiacos are going to be a difficult test," he said. "We’ve had a good start in the Champions League with the win in Montpellier, so it’s important that we’re at home, we get another win and we can put ourselves on the front foot to finish top of the group.
“Montpellier was a big test for us. I think we knew what was coming for us in the second half. When we went in at half time 2-1 up, you could tell that they were going to put the pressure on and we did very well to soak up the pressure.
"We defended well as a team and did enough in the end to get the three points – that’s what’s important, the three points and a strong start to our Champions League season."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 29 Sep 2012