Arsene Wenger mentioned the lack of fluency in English of the Arsenal and Brazil international defender Gabriel again this week, reported by the Evening Standard, after the centre back was widely lambasted in the football press for his part in the two goals of the young Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.
The boss said, “I would prefer him to have better English. In a fraction of a second sometimes somebody can help you.
“He has Nacho Monreal who plays next to him, he can speak Spanish. I believe as well he’s working very hard on his English and he’s improving quite quickly.
“It’s difficult for me to go into individual assessments of performances. We have to respond as a team and not criticize individually players for their performance.
“It was a difficult game for everybody and we want to respond collectively.”
There is certainly no doubt that Gabriel’s defending was a big help to the lad who scored a brace on his Premier League debut, although we should also give some credit to the young player who snapped up his chances well. However I also think that Wenger should not panic about the Brazilian and rush to bring Per Mertesacker back alongside Laurent Koscielny for the match against Swansea tonight.
To be honest I am thinking more about our next game, which is a massive one against north London and EPL title rivals Tottenham on Saturday. For that I would rather we have the pace and aggression of Gabriel and so I think he needs to play tonight as well.
I also feel that a lot of people have gone a bit overboard in their slating of the defender, with some suggesting that his pairing with Koscielny just does not work, because he and the French international played very well together when Wenger gave them a run after Mertesacker’s red card against Chelsea and he would have kept the pairing for the Leicester and Barcelona matches if Gabriel had not been unlucky enough to pick up a knock.
So should Wenger overlook his mistakes at Man United and keep Gabriel in the starting line-up?