Martin Keown has laid into Gabriel Paulista following our disappointing draw with Southampton this past Tuesday, and claims the Brazilian needs to learn a little composure, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Gabriel has been popular among Arsenal fans ever since his arrival, and many have long been calling for him to replace Per Mertesacker on a more regular occasion. He wasn’t at his best against the Saints though, and although we did manage to get a clean sheet, there were plenty of mistakes creeping into his game.
Keown believes he needs to go back to basics a little more, and try to focus on his composure rather than Hollywood tackles.
“At the back I think Gabriel is trying to prove he’s a good option but I often think less is more, defensively. Flying into headers and tackles can create panic when what you really need is calm,” he said.
Gabriel looks to be an excellent acquisition, and he’s already drawn comparisons to our own Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman has always had the physical attributes required to be a top quality defender, but took a while to adapt to the English game. He scored more than his fair share of own goals initially, and it wasn’t uncommon to see him given his marching orders after picking up a reckless red card. We’ve seen similarities in the 25-year-old’s game, but hopefully he’ll follow the same trajectory as his teammate.
Our other option at the back is obviously Mertesacker, who is nowhere near as popular with the fans as Gabriel. The giant German obviously offers plenty that his younger counterpart doesn’t, but his lack of pace means all those assets often mean absolutely nothing. He’s caught out far too easily, and with Arsene Wenger’s penchant for playing a high line and pushing further up the pitch, it’s often tantamount to suicide.
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Gabriel deserves a little criticism after his performance against the Saints, but he’s shown real quality in the past, and in seasons to come – and perhaps even now – he could well prove an excellent first choice centre-back.