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Gabriel Charged for Improper Conduct – He Will Learn from this

Arsenal defender Gabriel and Chelsea's Diego Costa have been charged by the Football Association

Derby games have an emotional edge above the usual fixtures we watch in the Premier League. There’s a whole lot to play for, and it goes beyond just points. Bragging rights, pride, the spectacle of the event, the whole nine yards. So when a Derby match is soiled by cheating players and shambolic officiating, it leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. Despite all the complains, bitterness, despair and unhappiness displayed by those from the Arsenal camp, it doesn’t change the fact that the Gunners dropped three points but with Manchester City faltering against West Ham, the world has become a better place.

Even though the game is long gone, the chain of events that led to Gabriel Paulista’s wrongful dismissal have been on the spotlight, and the FA, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to take some retrospective action after studying the incident between Diego Costa and Gabriel Paulista. The FA released a statement,

“Diego Costa has been charged for an alleged act of violent conduct which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video. 

“The Chelsea forward was involved in an incident with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny in the 43rd minute of the game. He has until 6pm today [September 22] to reply.

“Off the ball incidents which are not seen at the time by the match officials are referred to a panel of three former elite referees.

“Each referee panel member will review the video footage independently of one another to determine whether they consider it a sending-off offence. For retrospective action to be taken, and an FA charge to follow, the decision by the panel must be unanimous.

“Arsenal defender Gabriel has been charged with improper conduct for his behavior following his dismissal, whilst team-mate Santi Cazorla has been warned for his behavior following his sending off.

“Finally, both clubs have been charged for failing to control their players under FA Rule E20.

“Both clubs and Gabriel have until 6pm on Thursday [September 24] to reply.”

There have been mixed opinions about Gabriel’s dismissal and even the vice-captain, Per Mertesacker, shared his thoughts on the issue on an interview with a German TV,

“First of all, he [Costa] should have been sent off. That’s what should have happened above all. He went far too far and it seems that English referees lack the common sense that’s necessary. The officials certainly didn’t look good in this situation. Having said that, Gabriel can’t let himself be provoked and he should have been walked away from the scene by his team-mates. So we have to take responsibility for the situation, too.”

I was proud of Gabriel for standing up for his teammate when he was being bullied by that despicable character called Diego Costa. Some would say he was naive and he should have handled the situation better, but it was a heat of the moment stuff and football is about such moments. I’m pretty sure that a fiery character like Jack Wilshere would have done the same thing to defend Kos. Although, I’m saddened with the fact that Gabriel is set to face a suspension when he was getting a decent run out of games following Mertesacker’s recent fitness problems.

Gabriel will have to learn from this incident and “behave better” in the foreseeable future. On the bright side, the Gunners have enough depth in the side to make for the losses of Gabriel, Santi Cazorla and probably, Francis Coquelin.


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Rating Arsenal’s Defenders Performances in the 2014/15 Season

Arsenal conceded 36 goals in the Premier League (almost a goal per game), four goals in five FA Cup games on the road to the final, nine goals in 10 Champions League games and two goals in the only Capital One Cup fixture they featured in. This ultimately means that the Gunners averaged conceding at least one goal a game in every competition they played this season.

Gooner Daily analyses the performances of the defenders in the course of the campaign.

Nacho Monreal (37 appearances, one goal, six yellow cards)

Monreal has been a transformed player this season. When he arrived in January 2013, it took him a while to get a hang of things before he acclimatized to the rigors of the Premier League. He joined as Kieran Gibbs deputy but injuries to Kieran Gibbs paved the way for the Spaniard to get an extended run of games. This season, Monreal deputized as a center back when the club was faced in a defensive crisis and he played admirably in Laurent Koscielny’s absence.

With Kieran Gibbs suffering more fitness troubles, Monreal marauded the left back position with such confidence and made the role his own, even after Gibbs returned to full fitness. To crown up his efforts in the campaign, he scored a goal in the victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford – a goal any striker would have been proud of.

Rating: 8/10

Mathieu Debuchy (14 appearances, one goal, three yellow cards, one red card)

There was so much speculation about the right back that was coming in to replace Bacary Sagna when he left the club to join Manchester City’s bench. Names like Serge Aurier and Seamus Coleman were mentioned but Arsene Wenger opted for Newcastle’s Matt Debuchy that looked to settle in Arsenal like water off a duck’s back.

However, Debuchy suffered two long-term injuries on his ankle and his shoulder that just reduced him to a merger 14 appearances in his debut season with the Gunners. He showed off his temperamental side when he was sent off in the Champions League playoffs against Galatasaray but he managed to score his first Arsenal goal with his head when he featured in an unorthodox center back position when the Gunners visited Anfield.

With the emergence of Hector Bellerin and Carl Jenkinson returning from loan, Debuchy has it all to do if he wants to retain his status at the club’s primary right back next season.

Rating: 6/10

Kieran Gibbs (31 appearances, one goal, three yellow cards)

At the start of this campaign, Gibbs changed his jersey number to 3, which was vacated due to Sagna’s departure for the petro-greens. Gibbs had featured a career-best 41 times in the previous campaign and the assumption was that his injury problems are now behind him. He featured consistently as the season progressed and even managed to get on the score sheet with a vital equalizer against Anderlecht when it seemed as the Gunners were resigned to a defeat.

However, injury struck again and Gibbs lost his place in the team to Monreal. With the Spaniard in good form, Wenger chose not to feature Gibbs but handed him a couple of starts in the Cup fixtures. With Monreal ending the campaign on a high, Gibbs will face a battle in his hands to win his place back in the team. He has already stated that he’s ready to fight for his place. Such competition will be beneficial to Arsenal.

Rating: 6/10

Per Mertesacker (44 appearances, one goal, no yellow card)

With Mikel Arteta consistently out of the team due to injuries, the BFG has led the Gunners in almost every game he played. After featuring a career-high 52 times last season, the BFG joined his German side to Brazil and won the World Cup, which essentially meant that he didn’t get any time to recharge his batteries with Germany going into the latter stages of the tournament.

This season, the BFG has seen his ardent fans swing to the other direction as he put up some questionable performances with the Round of 16 clash against Monaco being his nadir. Nonetheless, he was efficient as always in his many games and he looked more at home when he featured alongside Laurent Koscielny. Injuries to the French defender saw Mertesacker play alongside the likes of Monreal, Calum Chambers and even Debuchy, but he remained steadfast in his duties.

Now that he has retired from international football, let’s see if his career can be prolonged like John Terry.

Rating: 7/10

Gabriel Paulista (seven appearances, no goal, two yellow cards)

In my honest opinion, it was a travesty not replacing Thomas Vermaelen when he left for FC Barcelona in the summer. Arsenal was just an injury away from disaster in central defense and it happened when Koscielny was out injured. Wenger acknowledged that set back and signed a relatively unknown center back from Villarreal, Gabriel Paulista.

After making his debut for the club in the FA Cup fixture against Middlesbrough, Gabriel featured in his first Premier League game that will forever be remembered for that tackle on Romelu Lukaku. His presence allowed the boss to alternate between his first-choice central pairing as the Brazilian settled in to life in North London.

I’d expect him to feature in more games next season, as well as being a good backup in any injury crisis.

Rating: 7/10

Laurent Koscielny (36 appearances, three goals, four yellow cards)

Koscielny has grown from strength to strength in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, making him indispensable to the team. He scored the opening goal of Arsenal’s Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace and when he suffered an Achilles injury, his absence from the squad was hugely felt. He made his return after several weeks and Mertesacker played better when his rightful partner was available.

Koscielny went on to score against Stoke and Leicester to take his tally to three for the campaign but his all-action, high-octane yet efficient style of play was exemplary all season long.

Rating: 9/10

Calum Chambers (36 appearances, one goal, eight yellow cards, one red card)

For what its worth, this is the first time in Chambers career that he has played this much games. Arsenal’s injury woes allowed him to get a run of games as a center back and he was lauded for his mature performances. He continued that good form and even scored his first professional goal against Burnley.

With Nacho Monreal featuring in the middle alongside Mertesacker, Chambers was drafted to right back and he struggled terribly in the defeat to Swansea. With more off form performances in the coming weeks which included a red card in the defeat to Stoke, he lost his place to Hector Bellerin and spent a considerable chunk of the campaign on the bench.

It’s going to be interesting to see if he’d feature regularly next season when everyone’s fit.

Rating: 6/10

Hector Bellerin (27 appearances, two goals, seven yellow cards)

Like Francis Coquelin, Bellerin has been one of the finds of the season. Injuries to several players paved the way for the young Spaniard to get his debut in the Signal Iduna Park at Dortmund and as the weeks progressed, he made the right back position his own, shoving off the threat of Chambers.

Bellerin has his raw reserves of blistering pace as well as a keen eye for goal, and this season, he found the back of the net on two occasions against Aston Villa and Liverpool. With Jenkinson returning from West Ham and Debuchy on his way back to full fitness, the battle for the right back spot will be very intense but Bellerin must be commended for the great shift he put this season.


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Thoughts on Gabriel Paulista’s Introduction to English Football

Gabriel Paulista

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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