Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed that he has spoken to Gabriel this week to explain why the defender is not starting games.
The Brazilian has been on the bench for the first two Premier League fixtures, with Ben White playing alongside William Saliba in the centre of defence, and Arteta says he has already had a heart-to-heart with the player:
“It is difficult for him, yes, but we have to focus on what is now and what is ahead and how we’re going to evolve that. There will be different relationships. Gabby will play a lot of games, I’m sure.”
“It’s about bringing the competition high and trying to make the team play better, better, better and win more games. That’s the purpose of all of us. Of course, I have explained to him why he’s not in the team- especially someone who has played a lot of minutes and games with us in the last year.”
Even though the pair talked things through, though, it seems as if Gabriel is not particularly happy about the situation, with Arteta saying he wants the centre-back to prove himself:
“I told him. He understands the reasons. Whether he agrees with it is something different. But the best way to do it is when you play, just tell me how blind and wrong I am.”
Arteta is taking a risk by experimenting with Arsenal’s backline
Considering how successful the Saliba-Gabriel centre-half partnership was last campaign, it is very surprising to see it being broken up.
Arteta claims the change is designed to make the “team play better”, but moving a central midfielder to the right-hand side of defence, and then switching a player (who you had converted into a right-back) back to centre-back, doesn’t seem like the wisest of moves.
Of course, Arteta knows more than most about how to set up a team so Arsenal fans will have to trust that he knows what he’s doing.