Gabriel Paulista unfortunately missed our massive 2-1 win over Leicester City this weekend with a hamstring injury, and could be out for the next couple of weeks – potentially missing our Champions League clash with Barcelona among other games – as reported by IBT.
It’s yet to be confirmed exactly how long the Brazilian will be out for, but it seems unlikely that Arsene Wenger will rush him back into action. Per Mertesacker stepped in to replace the 25-year-old against the Foxes, and despite his lack of speed being a major concern against Jamie Vardy, he put in a solid performance at the back.
Mertesacker started the game alongside Laurent Koscielny, but the Frenchman was taken off at half time with a dead leg. He was replaced by Calum Chambers, who did an excellent job after he came on.
Our upcoming game is against Hull City in the FA Cup, a game in which a couple of our senior players may have been rested anyway. But the following game just a few days later is against arguably the best side in Europe at the moment, with our Champions League future dependent on whether we can beat Barcelona over two legs.
To be without Gabriel and Koscielny against the Spaniards would be a huge blow, not only because our starting XI and options off the bench would be limited, but also because our squad depth either side of the game could suffer.
With Mathieu Debuchy now gone, Hector Bellerin is our only real option at right-back. Calum Chambers can potentially fill in at right-back, but if he’s needed at centre-back then we’d be somewhat limited. We don’t want to risk running anyone into the ground, but especially not Bellerin. Imagine where we’d be if Bellerin were to suffer an injury now? We’d be stuck with Chambers at right-back for the rest of the season, with our options at centre-back consequently limited too.
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Hopefully at least one player will be back before the game against Barcelona, and we’re able to keep our unlikely Champions League dream alive.