If you ask most Arsenal fans which player they would lke to start in the centre of defence next to Laurent Koscielny against Leicester tomorrow then I reckon the cast proportion would go for Gabriel over Per Mertesacker. Even though the German has huge experience, including the small matter of a World Cup win, and has a great record in partnership with Koscielny at the back, we cannot help but feel nervous about his lack of pace being exposed, especially when you are up against a team like the Foxes that has great pace up front and plays on the counter.
After Arsene Wenger kept the Brazilian in the starting line up even when the BFG had served his ban for the red card against Chelsea, I get the impression that the boss was thinking about Gabriel for the Leicester game, but a lot of people have been wondering why Wenger has not used him very much up until now.
Perhaps the answer lies in the Nacho Monreal interview reported by Arsenal.com this week. In it the Spaniard spoke highly of his Brazilian team mate and the left back clearly thinks that Arsenal have got ourselves a real player from the Spanish club Villarreal. But he also feels that the language barrier has been holding Gabriel back, just at it did to Monreal when he first came to the Premier League.
The Spaniard said, “It’s good that I can speak Spanish with him on the pitch, but Gabby knows he needs to improve his English because that will make the football easier.
“Myself, Hector, everyone is helping him every day with it because it’s much better for the team.
“I know exactly how he feels, because it was the same for me when I first arrived. When my English got better, I got better on the pitch too, because when you are playing one of the most important things is confidence.
“If you are confident in yourself, you feel better because you are more relaxed and you feel the authority to correct things you see. You feel more involved in the group.”
With Gabriel, three out of Arsenal’s back four will be Spanish speaking and then you have Alexis Sanchez and possibly Joel Campbell, while Mesut Ozil spent years with Real Madrid in La Liga. Is that helping Gabriel ti feel settled? And as his English improves will he get the nod more often over Mertesacker?