The title of this article suggests that I will spend the next 10 minutes extracting the urine out of a former Arsenal player, but that is not the case.
Ashley Cole was a born Gooner, a player who came through the ranks and moulded himself into THE best left back in the world. It's common knowledge how Cole's legendary status at Arsenal diminished with one secret meeting, but bitterness aside, Cole was one of the greatest left backs ever to play for Arsenal. His move to Chelsea seemed to suggest that it was this Arsenal team that made him look good, but he has proved himself to still be a class defender as his Chelsea performances have infinitely improved.
Whilst Cole plied his trade for the Gunners, a highly rated young Frenchman sat waiting in the wings for an opportunity to prove his worth. On the odd occasion that Cole was injured or suspended (Or in the Carling Cup) Clichy's performances did more than enough to have most Gooners reaching for the superlatives, and even comparing him to Ashley Cole.
When Ashley Cole finally left, most supporters were confident that Gael Clichy could adequately fill the void left by the England stopper. It was sad to lose such a talent player, but with the arrival of William Gallas the Gooners (Trademark pending) had their fears eased somewhat. The best we could hope for from Clichy was a good, solid & professional defender.
Clichy impressed in his first season as number one left back, but was often caught out positionally and he was over shadowed a little by a string of poor results from the Arsenal.
With the final whistle not long blown in a game in which a 10 man Arsenal side impressively beat Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth 3-1, my mind can not be pulled away from this mild mannered Frenchman.
This defender, who we prayed could be at least competent enough to play for our beloved Arsenal, has excelled beyond all expectation. Not only has he improved his defensive game, but he has put many of our wide players to shame with his quick feet, silky skills and electric pace.
One thing that stands out is Clichy's fitness. In the away leg against Sparta Prague, Gael ran himself into the ground, yet when the opportunity came to intercept a pass and engineer the Gunners first goal of the game late on, his pace seemed so great that he could still outpace the quickest player who hadn't run a step all evening.
So with the beer flowing freely this afternoon, I'd like to raise a can to a player who was asked to fill the shoes of the best left back in the world. A player so full of confidence and talent that he not only filled those shoes, but wore them out, and made a brand new pair of his own.
Gael Clichy - Best left back in the world.