Three reasons why Arsenal should play Gabriel ahead of Per Mertesacker

Three reasons why Arsene Wenger should start Gabriel Paulista ahead of Per Mertesacker in Arsenal v Stoke City

By Shona Duthie

Passing ability

It would seem if you compare Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista, the Brazilian comes out on top as his passing mirrors the fluidity favoured by manager Arsene Wenger and the rest of the team. Gabriel is diverse in his passing, has great passing accuracy and the quantity of passes he completes in the match dwarfs the German defender. Gabriel seems to have a calming nature when playing in defence. He makes some great decisions on the ball and off the ball. The former Villarreal man has started the last two games in the Premier League against Liverpool and NewcastleIn the Liverpool game, it was obvious to many that he felt comfortable in that role compared to his teammate Calum Chambers who struggled. It has been noted that Gabriel prefers to make passes to the left back Hector Bellerin, rather than Mertesacker who passes to Laurent Koscielny. By passing to Bellerin, it means he can use his pace to cause the other teams’ defence more problems.

Pace

It is well known that Mertesacker lacks pace, something which is key in a centre-halve’s game, as you need to be able to push higher up and attempt interceptions. Unfortunately for Mertesacker, due to his lack of pace, it makes him vulnerable. It was noted that in the Champions League match against Monaco, Mertesacker struggled to recover balls that were played around or over him. Gabriel does not suffer from this as his pace allows him to cover more of the pitch. Pace is something that Arsenal’s defence has struggled in for a while. However, Gabriel could be the answer to their problems. Mertesacker has been a loyal player to Wenger, but he keeps coming under scrutiny in the top games.

Younger player

Gabriel is only 24-years-old and still has a lot of playing years left in him. Gabriel brings an element of pure tenacity and aggression onto the pitch. He is always willing to challenge anyone for the ball and he will consistently do it, and under Wenger’s guidance, the Brazilian could certainly excel. It has also been noted that Arsenal have not lost a game that Gabriel has played in. While he has not had a lot of game time in north London, this is enough to give any player a confidence boost. Mertesacker has been great in some games for the club, but he does have a tendency to drop off in the important games. It appears that Gabriel does not have that problem, as he always has good focus. It leaves Wenger with a tough decision to make with Gabriel performing well in the last two games for the club.

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