Per Mertesacker looks likely to miss this weekend’s clash with Chelsea, with the Mirror reporting that the giant German is yet to recover from an injury picked up against Reading.
This may not be the worst news however, as it may force Arsene Wenger into making a choice he should have been considering anyway.
Mertesacker has been excellent this season, with the World Cup winner a near permanent fixture in the starting XI. A number of other players struggled with injury earlier in the campaign, but Mertesacker remained the one constant in our back line.
He is certainly not without weakness however, and his lack of pace and mobility is something he is heavily criticised for. This is not something new signing Gabriel Paulista suffers from, with the Brazilian likely to take Mertesacker’s place this Sunday at the Emirates.
Mertesacker has formed a fantastic partnership with Laurent Koscielny, but would no doubt be left exposed by the pace of Chelsea’s attack.
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Jose Mourinho may look to park the bus and hit us on the counter this weekend, so the agility of Gabriel may be exactly what we need.
With Francis Coquelin playing in front of Gabriel and Koscielny, the duo should have plenty of cover. And if Chelsea’s forward line gets beyond the French midfielder, then our agile centre-back pairing should have the mobility to recover.
We haven’t had much of a chance to see Gabriel play as of yet, so it’s unclear whether he will form a reliable partnership with Koscielny – although all the first signs are good.