Gabriel Paulista may have not gotten much chance to play yet, but Arsene Wenger is extremely positive about the Brazilian centre-back’s future at the club. A focused, dedicated and skilled defender, he seems like someone who might initially struggle to get accustomed, but if he can fit in, he will end up turning into a top-notch player. Per Mertesacker’s place may come under threat, if a regular partnership between Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny formulates by the end of the campaign.
If statistics are to be considered, Gabriel has enjoyed a superb start to life in English football. Despite having only five outings, he has managed to do pretty okay.
It’s not as if he hasn’t been tested though. So far, he has been forced to take 11 defensive actions per game—the highest of any Arsenal player. It’s clear the Brazilian does not shy away from a challenge, which can only be hugely beneficial for Arsenal.
He has managed to come out on top even if he contests against other players. Gabriel has won an average of 73 per cent of his one-on-one duels, which is also the single highest success ratio among Arsenal’s entire squad of outfield players. Arsene Wenger seems like he has hit the jackpot with Paulista in his team.
Watching highlights of his old plays, it is safe to say that most of his WOW moments were aerial. The former Villarreal man has won an incredible 86 per cent of his headed contests to date despite coming up against physical adversaries such as Everton forward Romelu Lukaku. To provide some context, the giant German Per Mertesacker can only boast of winning 71 per cent of his aerial battles, so score one for Paulista again.
Gabriel has aggression required to dominate his opponent. It’s possible that with a bigger sample of games behind him these numbers might dwindle, but so far, he looks like he has good potential.
Perhaps this new season will see him progress further as a player and evolve into a great defender. Or it might end up being as disastrous as Falcao at Manchester United. Let’s wait and watch!