I must admit that I was a touch surprised to see the name of Arsenal and Brazil international defender Gabriel Armando De Abreu (yes that is his real name, Paulista is a nickname from him being from Sao Paulo like calling someone from Newcastle Geordie Dave) in the starting line up to face Southampton on Tuesday night.
Per Mertesacker had missed the FA cup win over Burnley due to his red card against Chelsea but he was available to face the Saints and Arsene Wenger has always kept faith with the German defender before, despite the odd mistake. He even defended the BFG for looking the wrong way as he slid into an ill advised tackle that brushed the sock of Diego Costa.
By letting Ganriel keep his place in the centre of defence on Tuesday, however, it could be that Wenger has finally decided that Mertesacker’s lack of pace is just too much of a threat to Arsenal. I would have to agree, especially if it is a game when Arsenal are likely to be pushing hard against a determined defence with the opposing side hoping to hit us on the counter.
I do think that Per brings a lot of experience on to the pitch and Koscielny seems to be calmer with him around but unless Gabriel plays then the boss is not going to get used to him and I feel that these are the Gunners’ best two centre backs. I also fear for what the fast and tricky Barcelona front three would do to us with Mertesacker at the back.
So will Arsenal now stick with Gabriel and Koscielny at the heart of defence?