Not that it was expected that Wenger would immediately dump one of his regular center-halves for Gabriel after his arrival at the club but fans are anxiously waiting to get a chance to assess their new man, to know his worth.
While the good news is that he neither has a broken back nor a troublesome thigh strain and so can play in any game, Wenger still prefers to proceed with him at a cautious rate as there are still issues bothering on acclimatization which remain somewhat unsorted.
Speaking to the Arsenal official website, Wenger said:
“Gabriel can start. At the moment he’s ready to start, he’s just not used to playing in our back four and he hasn’t mastered the language at all. He’s physically ready.
“At the moment I have no special temptation to switch in the middle of our defence because we are going through a strong spell defensively. But he’s ready to play.”
The partnership of Mertesacker and Koscielny have served the Gunners well for much of the past two years as both as seen as very good compliments to each other. Koscielny has more pace and more aggression about him while the vice Captain has a knack for using more of his anticipative instincts to check danger before it appears.
Gabriel has come to Arsenal with something of a big reputation and has been tipped by some to provide much needed competition to both center backs currently available to Wenger. His versatility also means he can play at right and left back too, while being able to adapt into a three-man defensive set-up. His record over 18 months at Villareal speak of one with some very positive potential and for fans who have long awaited a strong stability return to their rearguard, the wait to see Gabriel’s debut is getting on the anxious fancies of Arsenal fans.
By comparison, he has been likened more to Koscielny as he is quick and apparently favours getting stuck into challenges. That would bring into questioning what partnership will suit him best within the Arsenal team. Wenger says he has not “learnt how to play with the back four” and that could mean the manager is maybe still at a loss on what the perfect game would be with which to introduce him.
It seems likely it will be the FA Cup fifth round game with Middlesborough. And given he still has no grasp of English, he would need to have one of those regular players playing alongside him who has managed to get into some kind of communication with him. That may be Monreal, as Spanish would be the only other language, besides his native Portuguese, which Gabriel speaks for now.
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