Gabriel Paulista, known simply as ‘Gabriel’ by the Arsenal fans, is a player that has received a lot of mixed reviews since his move to the Emirates. Gabriel signed a long term deal with the Gunners back in January 2015 and despite being recognised originally as a bright defensive prospect, he has largely failed to nail down a spot in the starting eleven.
Gabriel has managed 30 league appearances in what is now his third domestic campaign with the Gunners. The Brazilian may have only had one full season with the club, given he joined midway through the 2014-15 season and this season is yet to reach the halfway point, however he hasn’t been able to take many of the opportunities that have come his way. Gabriel has been in and out of the side under Arsene Wenger, despite many fans originally tipping him to replace Per Mertesacker in the centre of defence. It was eagerly anticipated that the former Villarreal man would slot in alongside more regular defender Laurent Koscielny. Gabriel however didn’t maintain his place in the side, largely due to a bit of recklessness on the pitch, as well as the fact communication errors were made as he didn’t speak very good English.
Gabriel this season however has managed to find himself on the pitch a bit more frequently, especially so in the last few games. The defender has featured in the Gunners last few matches, playing initially at right back due to defensive injuries to both Bellerin and Debuchy. Following on from Mustafi’s injury concern that he picked up at the weekend against Stoke City, Gabriel had the opportunity to slot into his more favoured position at centre back. He’ll now be hoping to impress the boss during Mustafi’s absence, with the Brazilian surely considering whether he’ll ever become a regular in this competitive Arsenal side.
Gabriel is likely to get the nod ahead of Holding when Arsenal come up against Everton on Tuesday night. I’m personally a big fan of the young Englishman, but given Gabriel’s recent performances, especially in an unfamiliar position, he definitely deserves to be given a chance in his favoured position. It means that Gabriel will therefore be tackling the physical dominance of Everton’s Lukaku and it’ll be a tough evening for the 26 year old.
I’ll be honest in saying that I’m not Gabriel’s biggest fan, but of course I support him nevertheless. I think there was a lot of hope put onto the Brazilian’s shoulders when he initially joined the club, with many fans believing that Arsene Wenger may have uncovered a defender we could rely on for many years to come. However the fact he’s been unable to have more of shout in the side, as well as the suggestion that he’s still yet to fully adapt to the English game, makes me consider whether he will have a long term future at the Emirates. Furthermore, although he’s still just 26 years old, Gabriel isn’t a future prodigy that’s going to continue to develop. Although experience will play a part, we cannot put a lot of faith in the defender to continue to grow and so his occasional recklessness and clumsiness on the ball in defence is something that concerns many of the fans.
Gabriel also has plenty of competition for places on his plate, with Koscielny and Mustafi seeming to be the regular centre backs at the moment. However the likes of Mertesacker, Holding and of course Chambers are also in the wings and so Gabriel has a lot to prove to Arsene Wenger over these next few weeks.