He is nearly ready according to the Arsenal manager. But reading between the lines and knowing that Arsene Wenger likes to use the domestic cup games to give playing opportunities to the fringe players in the squad, it looks like we are going to get our first look at what the January signing Gabriel Paulist is all about this weekend.
In his pre-match press conference reported by Arsenal.com the Frenchman hinted that the Brazilian defender signed from La Liga club Villarreal in January is now ready to get his first action for the Gunners and the way he said it suggested to me that he thinks Gabriel is going to be a real star for us.
Wenger said, “[Gabriel is] a player who has the ability and likes to defend – it’s more and more difficult to find people like that. He’s a player who has good qualities – he has good pace, he’s good in the air and is good in one against ones.
“It’s better I don’t talk too much, let him play and he can show how good he is.
“We have the squad to [compete], but that’s down to how dedicated, how focused, how motivated, how united we’ll be until the end of the season that will of course decide that.
“This is a period where you need more from your players than usual, because it’s the last four months of the season. You need everybody to give a bit more than they’re used to.
“[The squad will] not [be rotated] especially because it’s the FA Cup. Some players will play who have not played recently, but we treat this game exactly the same as a Premier League game.”
I assume it will be Laurent Koscielny who makes way if the new man is to start, as he seems to have the same qualities as our French centre back. And with the nagging worry about Koscielny’s ankle ligaments it would surely make more sense to give him a rest rather than Mertesacker.
Also, the German seems to be the one who reads, organises and controls the back line and now they have had the time to train together, Gabriel will hopefully know how the Arsenal defence want to operate. So are the fans about to see the start of something great? Let’s hope so Gooners…