The Big Friendly Giant Per Mertesacker was a very weak link for Arsenal in the first half of last season, which he blamed on a World Cup hangover, and he only showed signs of improvement when Laurent Koscielny was restored as his partner.
This coming season though, it looks like Gabriel Paulista has now settled, learnt the English language, and is now ready to begin his partnership with Koscielny in the starting line-up. In his roundup of last season, Arsene Wenger admitted he expected great things from the Brazilian. Le Prof said: “Also, we bought well in the transfer market, and all those players had a good impact. I also think Gabriel will be a revelation. He didn’t have many chances this season, but I am convinced he will be a top player. We will see more of him next season.”
This can only mean that Mertesacker will be demoted o third-choice this season, as Koscielny is undoubtedly a class above the German when he’s fit. Gabriel himself also declared that he was now settled and ready for the rigours of the Premier League. He said on the official Arsenal website: “I’ve only been here for a short while but I think it is a wonderful experience,”
“I am learning a lot with all my colleagues, with the city and with this club, which I have no words to describe because it is so great. I am very happy.
“I think it involves everything; the family helping outside and the team-mates helping within the club. I think this combination helps my happiness grow more every day.
“When I first arrived it was my time to adapt. I think I am more adapted now, so I really want to win, I want to be at my best to be able to do all I can to help everyone.
“I do think that my characteristics of being strong have helped me adapt well to the English league because it is a very hard league, with a lot of contact.
“So I have been making the most of it to get better all the time.”
With Gabriel alongside Koscielny and Petr Cech behind them surely our defence will be twice as strong as last season. We can build our title challenge on conceding fewer goals, but I still think we need a clinical striker to bang them in at the other end!