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."
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