Gabriel Paulista looked at one stage as if he was going to be the future of Arsenal’s central defence for many years to come. It was anticipated that he could strike up a partnership with Koscielny instead of Per Mertesacker and that he would eventually be paired with Chambers or another player post Koscielny. However this no longer seems to be the case, with two new additions to the defence and an injury later, Gabriel seems to have fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal.
In my opinion Gabriel used to be third choice in the centre of defence behind Mertesacker and Koscielny and it was often a bench role that Wenger had given the Brazilian. This season I thought that Gabriel may overtake Mertesacker into the starting line-up, despite my personal opinion of not being convinced on him. Instead an injury in pre-season saw Gabriel ruled out for a number of months and since then, Arsenal have two new faces in Mustafi and Holding join the ranks.
Gabriel is now set for a return to the Arsenal squad, for the Gunners trip to Nottingham Forest. Arsenal face Forest in the Football League cup and it is normally used as a chance for the Gunners to play some of the younger or fringe players at the club. After returning to training, Gabriel is set to now be included in the squad and may even start with the likes of Koscielny sure to be given a rest. But could cup game appearances be what the future holds for Gabriel at Arsenal?
I have never been entirely convinced by Gabriel in his time at Arsenal. When he arrived at the club, I felt the move was promising and I had hoped that he would turn into a centre back to be at the heart of defence for many seasons to come. However his lack of communication on the pitch, overly aggressive and clumsy approach, often means that he leaves the Gunners in tough situations at the back. It may only have been just over one and a half years for Gabriel at Arsenal, given he joined back in January 2015, but this is his third season with the Gunners and he doesn’t seem to have improved at all. With the recent additions of Mustafi and Holding, both of whom have impressed massively, not to forget that Arsenal will continue to invest time and effort into Chambers, I can see Gabriel becoming a player who is used sparingly, before an eventual sale.
Gabriel may currently be up in the pecking order with Mertesacker still injured and Chambers out on loan, but when all defenders are available, I rank Gabriel behind Koscielny, Mustafi, Holding and Chambers, meaning that currently Gabriel ranks as 5th choice. Does Gabriel lack a future at Arsenal?