Is Gabriel Paulista the Beginning of the End of Per Mertesacker’s and Laurent Koscielny’s Arsenal Partnership?


Arsenal recovered brilliantly against Everton despite not looking at the top of their game. The one part of their game that was incredibly solid, especially in comparison to the horror show at Monaco, was the defense.

But it wasn’t the traditional Arsenal defense.

Per Mertesacker was seen on the bench, leaving his centre-back mate Laurent Koscielny matched with Gabriel Paulista.

The result couldn’t have been better.

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After a couple of awkward moments, Gabriel seemed to acclimate to the style of the game in a mere ten minutes. He was absolutely tremendous, made a last-man tackle on Romelu Lukaku in the box and looked incredibly confident on the ball.

It left me wondering whether this was the beginning of the end of our epic centre-back duo that’s anchored Arsenal for the past few years.

Mertesacker was on the bench due to the short layoff between this match and Monaco, but it also didn’t help how atrocious the big German was in said match. He was completely out of character and cost Arsenal at least one goal.

But one good performance by Gabriel won’t knock Mertesacker out of the starting centre-back role, especially given how many good matches Mertesacker has had around the one bad one. He is statistically having one of his better years even though his defensive errors have steadily increased across the past three years.

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It will be hard keeping Gabriel on the bench with his performance, and Mertesacker should be feeling a tad bit nervous after the Brazilian’s performance.

Then there’s the other half of that defensive duo that had the unbelievable two year undefeated streak – Laurent Koscielny. Koscielny has had a down year compared to last year. He really hasn’t gotten back into full form since returning from injury and it’s incredibly apparent in some of his poor decision making.

Even against Everton, he was completely outdone by Gabriel.

Again, basing anything off one performance is a fool’s endeavor, but it may just be a sign of things to come. If Gabriel can continue to improve, he could quickly work his way into being a regular in the Starting XI. The advancing age of Mertesacker and Koscienly doesn’t help.

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Two starts into his Arsenal career and Gabriel is already threatening an age-old duo. That’s a positive sign for the future of Arsenal. He seems to learn incredibly quickly, as was apparent against Everton, and these lessons will quickly be added to his already expanding repertoire en route to making him an excellent Premier League defender.

It also didn’t appear that his questionable grasp of the English language was a problem. Arsene Wenger had uncharacteristically called out this ‘flaw’ in Gabriel, but it really doesn’t appear to be making an impact. He was even clearly communicating orders to his team mates at various points in the game, leading me to believe that his communication is right where it should be.

The defense performed incredibly well against Everton. Kieran Gibbs and Hector Bellerin responded magnificently to their hiccup against Monaco. But again, no one outdid Gabriel – except maybe David Ospina.

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