Former Arsenal star Frank McLintock has given his backing to January signing Gabriel Paulista, and believes he should replace Per Mertesacker at the heart of our defence, according to the Express.
The giant German’s season has been somewhat mixed, and a number of shocking performances have stood out among his many reliable ones.
Gabriel was brought in from Villarreal this past January, and has looked good during his sparse appearances so far. The Brazilian was unlucky to suffer an injury during his last appearance, but should be fit to play some part in this weekend’s clash with Newcastle United.
McLintock believes our new boy should be thrown straight back in at the deep end on his return, and claims he should replace our World Cup winning vice-captain at the back.
“It wouldn’t be harder to be tighter at the back,” he said.
“Mertesacker obviously has a lot of caps and he’s been a wonderful player for Germany, but he’s not had his best season.
“He hasn’t been at his best, although he played well [against West Ham] on Saturday, and the new boy Gabriel has come in but he hasn’t really been tested out a great deal.
“He looked mobile, put in a fantastic tackle a couple of weeks ago [against Everton] so I like the look of him. He’s got to have the time to settle down as that was a position that was causing us a problem.
“We lost [Thomas] Vermaelen and why we didn’t replace him I’ll never know.
“We should have had a ready-made replacement and hopefully Gabriel can be the guy.”
The 24-year-old has looked like he has a mistake or two in him since his arrival, but that is understandable from a centre-back who doesn’t speak English coming to a new league – especially a league that moves at the pace of the English top flight.
Laurent Koscielny was something of a liability when he first joined the club – sliding in recklessly, giving away penalties, and scoring own goals with regularity. Once he settled into the Premier League however, he quickly became one of the top central defenders in the country.
I can see Gabriel’s Arsenal career starting in much the same way unfortunately, as his tackling style is somewhat similar to his new French teammate’s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him featuring far more regularly for the remainder of the season though, as he already looks capable of being a long term fixture at the Emirates.