Only the Arsenal manager will know whether the current first choice pairing of Gabriel with Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the Arsenal defence is a temporary arrangement or something that the manager is taking on a game by game basis. Even if it is supposed to be the new regular central defensive set up we know that can quickly change depending on form, fitness and disciplinary issues.
But if the Brazilian defender keeps performing well and Arsenal keep winning with a strong defensive platform it is hard to see our World Cup winning German star Per Mertesacker getting much game time between now and the end of the season. Our BFG certainly seems to be worried about his place in the side, even though he says in a Sky Sports report that he is not letting it affect him too much.
Mertesacker said, “I’ve got to admit it is new to me. I’ve been around a long time now and this has not so often been the case, but I’m in good spirits, am fit and I have no pain. Of course I’m playing less, but I’m sticking at it. Maybe I’ll get another chance. Things change quickly nowadays.
“You get ups and downs as a footballer and you’ve just got to remain professional, and I’ve always been that down the years. That’s why I’ve survived for so long in this business. I listen closely to what the coach says and he knows that he can count on me, no matter what happens.
“I want to show him in every training session that I’m ready when needed. The team needs every player, whether I’m on the bench now or not – I don’t just write it off. I always look ahead positively and that is the best way to get over the disappointment of not playing.”
It is not just the fact that the current situation is a new one on the vastly experienced centre back either. He is one of the Gunners that seems the most optimistic about Arsenal pulling off a remarkable comeback in the hunt for the Premier League title, especially after two clean sheets, six goals and six points from the last two games. I get the feeling that the BFG thinks he might miss out on one of the most amazing finishes in EPL history.
He said, “It’s not totally over yet. If we win all of our matches, then we’ve got a good chance.
“We’ve got to keep focusing on that and that’s why we’re taking things game by game. We’re trying to concentrate fully on our next game against West Ham. We have a bit more time now that we’re not in any other competition so we don’t have to concentrate on anything else, other than the title.”
I hope he is right and I think he may well still have a part to play, especially when we come up against physical and defensive sides like West Brom and Sunderland. But will it be the finish that we are all hoping for?