Thoughts on Gabriel Paulista’s Introduction to English Football
In all honesty, it was a really tough task going into the 2014/15 campaign with such a small number of defenders. Yes, the club did okay to sign the experienced Matt Debuchy and the young lad with massive potential, Calum Chambers, but with Thomas Vermaelen sold to FC Barcelona, everyone expected a new defender to come in the opposite direction. Well, that didn’t happen so we had to make do with a first-choice defensive pairing of Kieran Gibbs on the left, Debuchy on the right and the awesome clean sheet-keeping combination of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker with the dependable Wojciech Szczesny behind them. This also meant that Arsenal had Nacho Monreal as Gibbs’ deputy and with Carl Jenkinson going to West Ham, Chambers / Hector Bellerin were to serve as Debuchy’s understudy so the million dollar question popped up – who would play as a center back if anything happens to Mertesielny?
Then it began to happen as the injury gods ravaged the players one after the other. Debuchy attempted to control a simple ball against Manchester City and bam.. his ankle dislocated. Well, Chambers was his deputy and he got an extended run of games. That’s when Koscielny’s Achilles decided to get hurt by some Paris of Troy in a distant world. Nacho Monreal had a decent run of games as a center back, then Gibbs got injured and Monreal went to the left with Chambers playing as a center back. This paved the way for Bellerin to shone like a bright star.
Why did Wenger allow things to get so bare at the back? Did he envisage that the players were going to be fit all season long? In a team like Arsenal were players get injured like they way people get taxed in the UK? With the winter transfer window approaching, the fans craved for a new DM and center back. Wenger unwrapped Francis Coquelin to the fans and despite being around for quite some time, he looked like a new shiny toy everyone wanted to play with. His performances have been awesome since he returned to the first team and I hope it long continues.
The prayers of the fans were finally answered when Gabriel Paulista came along. A typical Wenger-esque signing. Carefully though of, relatively unknown. All the transfer dealings went through as the media vultures hovered around clubs looking for what to report but it was pretty dull at the Emirates, and in all honesty, the fans didn’t care. They had gotten the center back they wanted and that was all that mattered. It was only a case of when he was going to make his debut.
After a frantic wait to see what the lad had to offer, Arsene Wenger handed him a debut in the game against Middlesbrough and he hardly put a foot wrong.
In the wake of Arsenal’s victory over M’Boro, Kieran Gibbs was on the news and he spoke about Gabriel Paulista’s communication challenges,
He doesn’t speak any English at the moment but it was the same with Alexis Sanchez when he came to the club and look at him now.
“It’s a bit like pointing and shouting because in training Steve Bould goes through it with him. One of the Spanish boys then translates, so he knows what to do.
“That’s where it starts from. It’s so important to get a good understanding. It won’t take him long.”
His Premier League debut turned out to be a cameo appearance as the Gunners sought to see out a nervy victory over Crystal Palace but following Per Mertesacker’s horrible ‘shortcomings’ against AS Monaco, Gabriel was offered a chance to make his full debut at home to Everton. He made one glaring error in the game and had David Ospina to thank to mopping things up but he grew in confidence as the game progressed and he’d be fondly remembered for…
With such an impressive performance, many expected Gabriel to at least keep his place in the game against QPR and it was looking as if it was the end of Mertesacker’s time in the first team but Wenger featured the Brazilian alongside the BFG in Loftus Road. Gabriel managed to get 36 minutes under his belt before the inevitable happened – a hamstring injury from nothing. Typically Arsenal.
According to the manager, Gabriel will be out for three weeks which means that we will have to wait till April before we can see the hard-faced lad in action. From the little glimpses I’ve seen, I’ve been very impressed by the Brazilian. At his age, he has very a lot to learn about English football but he has shown that he can be a dominant force with the right guidance. If he continues to work hard, the world will be at his feet and I know that we will see a different beast next season.
At least, there will be no more complains about adaptation.
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