By Joe Brewin

Arsène Wenger has welcomed the left-back battle between Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos.

Gibbs has impressed since his return from injury at the end of February, but with Santos now back to full fitness, the 22-year-old has competition for his place.

Brazilian international Santos had also made a positive start to his Arsenal career before his unfortunate ankle injury, and Wenger has challenged Gibbs to keep his more experienced team-mate at bay.

“They are competing for the left back spot and I must say that Gibbs is a big competitor because I rate Santos highly,” he told Arsenal Player.

“To keep him out will demand some great performances and he is providing that at the moment. There is a big competition going on there.”

Gibbs spent the best part of four months on the sidelines in the first half of the season after surgery and Wenger believes the young left back will only improve as he finds his feet once more.

“It is normal,” said the Frenchman. “At that level you need absolutely to be physically fit and mentally confident. Both only come if you have a longer run in the team.

“He has been out for such a long time and it takes you a while to adjust to the intensity of the game. Confidence comes with the quality of your performances and how you feel physically.”

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8 Apr 2012