When Gabriel Paulista arrived at Arsenal two years ago he was expected to come in as Laurent Koscielny’s partner at centre-back as most of us thought that Per Mertesacker was getting older and slower, but the Brazilian seemed to take a long time to learn the language and settle down to the rigours of the Premier League.
Arsene Wenger seemed to have given up on Gabriel as a regular first team starter when Le Prof decided to splash out 34 Million to bring in Shohkran Mustafi as well this summer, and it looked like Gabriel was set to be a permanent fixture on the bench. But recently, with injuries to both Hector Bellerin and Mustafi, Wenger has been forced to use Gabriel for the last month, with mixed reviews from the fans.
Gabriel himself thinks he is now ready to cope with the challenge. “I have improved a lot, I really have,” he said on Arsenal.com. “Every league has its own characteristics. In Brazil, it’s more of a slow-paced game so I suffered a bit when I moved to Spain.
“It wasn’t easy to adapt to a much faster game where you only have two touches on the ball, so I had some difficulties. But in Spain there isn’t much physicality, that kind of a stronger game, like there is in the Premier League.
“Then I came to England and I think I’ve settled in quickly, maybe because strength and speed are two characteristics of my game. I’ve managed to adapt to this league, which is the best in the world for me.
“The opportunities are coming now,” Gabriel added. “Unfortunately, I had a chance because of Hector’s and Mathieu’s injuries but I’m trying to make the most of my chances. Also, the team is doing well this year. We made the top spot in our group in the Champions League, which is very important.
“Inside this club, the happiness and the atmosphere is really good. It’s like a family and that’s the reason things are going well, we’re playing well and winning matches. It’s because of this, which is the most important thing for me.”
Obviously Gabriel is not a right-back, But he had no choice but to try to adapt when Wenger asked him to play there so he cannot really be judged on those games, but at least he got some game time ahead of the injury to Mustafi. Now he has been moved back to his favoured position, do you think he can do enough to prove he is ready to be in Arsenal’s first team?