Martin Keown: Why this player must start more games for Arsenal

Martin Keown is expecting Gabriel Paulista to become a key player for Arsenal in the coming months

Martin Keown is backing Gabriel Paulista to develop into a key player at Arsenal in the seasons to come.

The Brazilian defender has found his first-team opportunities at Emirates Stadium limited this season, with Arsene Wenger preferring the centre-half pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker for most of the campaign.

However, Gabriel staked his claim for a more regular spot in the Arsenal team when he impressed alongside Mertesacker in last week’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth, with the centre-half heading the Gunners into the lead at Emirates Stadium.

The 25-year-old will be keen to gain more regular playing time in the coming weeks and months as Arsenal look to sustain their Premier League title challenge.

And former Arsenal defender Keown feels that it is only a matter of time before Gabriel replaces Mertesacker as the club’s regular centre-half alongside Koscielny.

Keown told the Daily Mail: “I keep saying – and no one seems to be listening – that Gabriel is a fantastic player. I have no doubt he will be first choice along side Koscielny at some point.

“He made a couple of unbelievable challenges against Bournemouth, as well scoring an important goal – all this after being sat on the bench for so long. For me, that’s highly impressive.

“What he needs to do is bring the same sense of calmness and confidence as Mertesacker does. Wenger really likes this, but Gabriel is definitely putting pressure on the German – and you only get the love from Wenger for so long.”

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Arsenal host Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday.

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