Gabriel Paulista’s Aggression a Potential Risk Factor for Arsenal?


The praise is being being heaped on Arsenal’s new signing, Gabriel Paulista. published some comments from Guillem Balague and Michael Cox that make it sound like – prior to seeing any game action – Arsenal have made a fantastic choice.

Michael Cox had this to say:

"“Gabriel’s style is summarised by one simple statistic: in La Liga this season, only two players have made more than his 66 interceptions. Some centre backs are happy to sit deep and soak up pressure before making headed clearances. Not Gabriel – he wants to play high up the pitch and sneak in ahead of opponents to win the ball quickly. In that sense, he shares some qualities with Laurent Koscielny.”"

This is high praise indeed, and I couldn’t be more excited about the potential Gabriel has to make an immediate impact on the team.

Arsene Wenger has even said that he’ll be available for the Aston Villa clash. However, he doesn’t speak a word of English yet, so this could be a problem.

But aside from the current language barrier, one thing continues to bug me about the assessment of Gabriel’s game – his aggression.

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Don’t get me wrong, aggression is welcome. Laurent Kocielny has made a name for himself because of his aggression, but at times, this aggression can get him caught out. It’s his partnership with Per Mertesacker that makes him so much more dynamic because Per sits back and absorbs what Kocielny misses.

If the plan is to pair Gabriel with Kocielny, than my worry stems from their dual-aggression. Both challenge high up the field and make interceptions and that’s well and good, but it also means we run the risk of letting players in behind us.

This isn’t a pessimistic post, I’m not saying Arsene Wenger made a bad choice. Gabriel is a fantastic player and I can’t wait to see him on the pitch. I’m just curious how he’s going to be utilized. If it’s with Kocielny, will the aggression be a problem? If it’s with Mertesacker, where does Kocielny go? If on the bench, are we wasting him?

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