Gabriel set for Arsenal debut

Brazilian’s English is still a problem, according to Wenger

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sun 15 Feb 2015, 9:08 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:05 PM

London — New signing Gabriel Paulista’s English is still “a problem” according to manager Arsene Wenger but the Brazilian defender could make his Arsenal debut in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Middlesbrough.

The 24-year-old who joined the Gunners from Spanish side Villarreal last month for a reported 11.3 million pounds ($17.1 million) is yet to make his debut.

 After his arrival Wenger said the language barrier could cost his side goals and is yet to be convinced that the problem has been alleviated.

 “Look, it is a problem,” Wenger told reporters. “When you don’t speak English and you don’t understand, ‘Come out, come back, right, left’.

 “It is a problem for a defender. You need to know the key words. ‘Referee! Offside! Foul!  “But he has the physicality and motivation. He has an opportunity to show that now.”

 German World Cup-winning defender Per Mertesacker is expected to be rested when holders Arsenal host the Championship leaders at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, opening up a gap for Gabriel.

 He was an unused substitute in Arsenal’s last three matches and has struggled to break the settled partnership of Mertesacker and France international Laurent Koscielny.

 Wenger cited the pressure on modern day players as his reluctance to play Gabriel but said his lack of English could be advantageous in terms of not reading press criticism.

 “The players are always under tremendous pressure because everything they do is analysed by the pundits and the press,” Wenger added.

 “The modern player has to live with that - resistance to stress has to be stronger than it was 10 years ago.  “He will not read the press. He will just focus on his game — that is one of the advantages.”

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