Many Arsenal fans have constantly complained that Arsene Wenger always chooses Per Mertesacker to partner Koscielny in defence, while our new beast Gabriel is usually left on the bench. Wenger started with the Brazilian against Bournemouth last week, but with the massive game against Leicester coming up tomorrow it is nearly certain that Wenger will revert to the Koss/BFG partnership again.
Why? It is simply that the 25 year-old has not yet mastered English enough to communicate fully with his team-mates. The Spaniard Nacho Monreal explains that he still talks to him in Spanish during the games. “It’s good that I can speak Spanish with him on the pitch, but Gabby knows he needs to improve his English because that will make the football easier,” Nacho said. “Myself, Hector, everyone is helping him every day with it because it’s much better for the team.”
“I know exactly how he feels, because it was the same for me when I first arrived,” he continued. “When my English got better, I got better on the pitch too, because when you are playing one of the most important things is confidence.
“If you are confident in yourself, you feel better because you are more relaxed and you feel the authority to correct things you see. You feel more involved in the group.”
We may feel that Mertesacker is slower than Gabriel, but his excellent reading of the game makes for a great partnership with Koscielny and they have served us wonferfully for the last few years. But the Big German is now getting on a bit and I am sure that by next season Gabriel will be the automatic choice with Mertesacker as backup. But tomorrow it will definitely be the German starting the game….