Mikel Arteta’s decision to select Jakub Kiwior in the last three games has certainly paid off, for the Polish stopper has vindicated his manager’s decision through his quality showings.
Forced to be patient and bide his time while he waited for his chances, the January signing has made the most of his opportunities, which have come about largely through injury.
Slotting in seamlessly and seemingly unfazed by the level in his games against Chelsea, Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion, there’s been many positives to be extracted from the former Spezia hotshot’s performances.
“I think Jakub Kiwior has ability. Kiwior deserves credit because coming into the end of the season when everything is at stake and you haven’t had much game time, it’s harder than we think. Well done Kiwior,” said former Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre.
Arteta then added this on his efforts: “He’s been getting better and better every single day, not only in training but his interaction and his language.
“He’s more settled and he’s a player that I really like, that’s why I signed him. He has the potential at his age to be great and he had a big task against the players he had to face today, and I think he did really well.”
Holding his own against the likes of Callum Wilson, Alexander Isak and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, his defending has been sound, as he’s approached the challenge with a nice blend of intelligence and physicality.
Undertaking his efforts with authority and clarity, he’s used his rangy frame, that features his long arms and legs, to impede the momentum of runners and reach in to win tackles and apply interceptions.
Reading the play shrewdly and wide awake to danger from his usually sound side-on posture, that allows him to scan over his shoulder and powerfully push off in all directions, this has helped him react coherently to nearby threats even if he’s been beaten by slightly more nimble adversaries at times.
As a result, the pacy defender’s been quick to track runners, follow opponents deep, jet back to support his colleagues, deal with transitions and step out to press.
His effectiveness has also been helped by his solid timing of his interventions to deal with situations both on the ground and in the air, as his judgement and decision making has largely been on point. His leap and aerial prowess warrants special mention, for the languid stopper’s proven what a tough man to overcome in these instances he is.
Relishing engaging in these duels, there’s a nice blend of power and finesse in his ball winning, for he wisely anticipates what’s about to unfold and is quite proactive in his approach.
Clearly positionally aware and constantly adapting his position to try and stay compact and in unison with the defensive line, he’s transferred his aptitude here over nicely despite still being in the early days of forging relationships at his new club.
Meanwhile, upon shifting his focus to his efforts on the ball, and he’s a real asset here too, with his cultured left foot, comfort in possession, which comes from him being accomplished operating in midfield, vision and positional nous adding to his worth.
Capable of playmaking from deep, beating the press and never afraid to back himself, Kiwior’s always on the look-out for the progressive pass.
Whether it be line breaking passes, precise short passes, altering the angle of attacks, switching the play or launching through balls in behind or down the channels, he’s already proven he has much to offer with his polished distribution.
Indeed, seeing as he knows his strength in this compartment, he spoke insightfully why he was so happy to join Arteta’s Arsenal, who love building out from the back and play an attackingly geared, possession based brand of football.
“I love passing the ball,” Kiwior insisted. “I like teams that move the ball and try to create chances that way. So, I’m happy that I’ve come to a team like that.”
Fellow Pole and superstar striker Robert Lewandoski then added this on the youngster: “He has a really great left foot. I don’t want to praise him too much because sometimes the media give my statements too much weight. But he has humility, wants to develop and quickly finds answers. And also wants to learn. This is the most important thing.”
Although it’s still early days, signing the former Anderlecht prospect, who’s also spent time in Slovakia, for a very reasonable £20 million certainly looks like a very astute piece of business at this stage.
Adding crucial squad depth in multiple positions and essential cover for Gabriel especially, it’s easy to see why the Gunners pounced in January.
On a clear upward trajectory and with still immense scope for improvement, all the signs are positive that the 23-year-old is yet another masterstroke by Arsenal.
Possessing so many of the desired traits needed for success in the modern game and to be a valuable member of Arteta’s squad, it’ll make for intriguing viewing following how he fares going forward after showing plenty of recent promise.