Tony Pulis tells Kieran Gibbs to forget Arsenal and prove himself to West Brom fans
Tony Pulis has urged Kieran Gibbs to forget the Arsenal fans on Monday and put in a performance for the travelling Baggies instead.
Albion’s left-back spent 13 years at the Gunners, and rose through their academy ranks into a fist-team regular.
He returns to the Emirates Stadium for the first time tomorrow, just weeks after leaving for the Baggies in a £5million deal.
Gibbs became surplus to requirements in North London after falling to third-choice left-back when Sead Kolasinac arrived from Schalke in the summer.
He is expected to get a good reception, but instead of proving himself to the club that let him go, Pulis wants the England international to impress the 1,500 Albion fans at the Emirates.
“He's done his job at Arsenal,” said Pulis. “He is proving to the West Brom supporters he is a good player and will be an asset here.
“You leave clubs with great memories hopefully, and he has done that. He has won stuff there and been involved in successful teams and a very successful club.
“That is great to look back on but he's looking forward, that is the most important thing in life. I will say to him it's about looking forward to what he can do here.”
Pulis plans to take Gibbs to one side on the train down to London in the morning to make sure he’s ready for his return.
And he plans to tell his new left-back he’s been impressed with him since his arrival, both on and off the pitch.
“I have been pleased with the games he has played,” said Pulis. “He has done really well. I still think there is a lot more to come as well.
“He's got a lot left in the tank, he is only 27. But he's been very good around the dressing-room.
“The players have taken to him. He's got that little bounce about him which they tend to do from the area where they are brought up in (London).
“He has really mixed in with the group which is important. His focus now should be on trying to improve and becoming a very good player for West Bromwich Albion.”
When Gibbs arrived, Pulis said the full-back needed to bulk up, and he’s been pleased with how the full-back has dived into the club’s strength and conditioning work.
“He has taken to the mental side of it as well,” added Pulis. “In respect of avoiding injuries and preparation for training and games.”
Albion snatched Gibbs towards the end of the window for £5m after Arsenal lowered their original £12m asking price.
Although it looks like a steal in the modern market, Pulis has been around the block enough times to know two promising performances do not necessarily mean months of success.
“That can only be proved by how he plays over the next couple of years,” said the Baggies boss. “We think it is a good deal but I've signed players who have started well and faded.
“I have signed players who have started really poorly and grown into it. Ask me next year! You don't know but it looks a great deal.
“He felt personally it was time to have a new challenge which was great.
“We are fortunate enough to have got the deal done. Now it is up to all of us, him and ourselves, to make sure we try and get the best out of him.
“We're hoping that over the next few years he'll be a great asset for this club.”
When he joined the Baggies, Gibbs said Pulis would help him 'develop in certain areas I may need to work on', insinuating that his defensive game would develop under the Welshman.
But when Pulis was asked what areas his new full-back was alluding to he joked: “It's the technical work we do!”