By Chris Harris
Gael Clichy has waited in the wings for his chance to nail down a first-team spot. Now the young Frenchman's patience is being rewarded.
The presence of Ashley Cole and a string of injuries restricted Clichy to a bit-part role during his first three years with Arsenal but a clean bill of health and Cole's departure have changed all that.
Clichy produced another eye-catching performance on Saturday as Arsenal overcame Gilberto's early red card to keep Blackburn at bay and pick up three more valuable points. No wonder the 21-year-old is enjoying his new-found status at Emirates Stadium.
"I am really enjoying myself, definitely," he told Arsenal.com. "Playing football has always been a passion for me, since I was six years old I wanted to be a footballer.
"Last season was difficult for me with all the injuries. My first two seasons here were good but Ashley was there so I was on the bench a lot. But now I am just enjoying the time I get to play on the pitch. I'm really enjoying playing for Arsenal."
Clichy has bags of potential on the pitch and, just as importantly, a level head off it. For all his success this season, he won't be lured into a false sense of security. Clichy just wants to convince Arsène Wenger that he doesn't need a left back on his shopping list this summer.
"I have to keep working hard in training because I know how quickly things can change in football," said Clichy.
"Maybe tomorrow there will be some new left back and Arsenal may want to sign him. So I am working hard to make sure that the boss doesn't feel he needs to go out and buy someone else in the summer."
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 16 Jan 2007