We are known for our passing ability and attacking flair, but defensive stability is a key part of any Premier League side hoping to challenge for the title. Injuries and a lack of depth in that department saw us struggle at times last season, but January signing Gabriel Paulista could ensure a hugely successful 2015/16 campaign.
Last season we were behind only Chelsea and Southampton in fewest goals conceded, and our solid defensive unit – along with the emergence of Francis Coquelin – has to be given credit.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have formed an extremely solid partnership, and when both men are fully fit and injury free we boast one of the strongest defensive partnerships in the English top flight.
We can’t expect either player to play every single game of the season though, and we need adequate replacements. Arsene Wenger was forced to deploy Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy out of position at times, and with our constant injury issues we need to have options at the back.
In the few brief glimpses we’ve been given of our new Brazilian he has looked extremely impressive. He has been deployed alongside both Mertesacker and Koscielny, and has adapted well to playing with both.
Mertesacker has often struggled without his French defensive partner by his side, with his lack of pace leaving him exposed when lacking someone with the speed and agility to make up for it. Gabriel is capable of doing that job however, and is equally able to form one half of a pacier defence – with the ability to play a high line successfully.
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The 24-year-old won’t be happy with playing second fiddle though, and is sure to be looking to break up the Mertesacker Koscielny partnership. He will offer us something different when utilised, and looks more than capable of excelling in the Premier League.
He featured in very few games last season, but in his six top flight appearances he was hugely impressive.
Stats courtesy of Squawka:
His numbers suggest he will be a real threat to Koscielny and (particularly) Mertesack’s starting spot next season, and it will be fantastic to have such strength in depth at centre-back for a change.
Depth is arguably just as important as individual quality, so having a player of Gabriel’s ability in the squad could prove vital to any Premier League challenge we are hoping to mount.