Gabriel Should Start Over Pablo Mari
That reaction to Leno’s heroics was clearly the sign of a man who was grateful to have his blushes spared, and is all too cognizant of the fact that one bad game could easily see him sent back to the dog house posthaste.
That is exactly why Gabriel should, and in my opinion, will, slot right back into his starting position at left-sided center back. Mari has been a wonderful servant in the past few games but Gabriel is both the present and the future of the football club. The young Brazilian’s ceiling is just too high for him to be placed on the bench, at least in the Premier League or Europe.
Is Gabriel a perfect player? No.
The 22-year old can be rash in the challenge and also has a zealous nature that may see the Brazilian over-defend in certain situations. Gabriel is desperate to win every ball and drag his team forward that sometimes his positioning can be left wanting, thus isolating his defensive partner. However, those mitigating factors simply do not outweigh the quality that Gabriel brings to the side.
Mari had a decent game against Newcastle in the FA Cup. The center-back’s passing was erratic throughout the 90 minutes of regulation and overtime, ranging from bafflingly poor to impressively tidy.
That said, the Spaniard went about his defensive duties very admirably, notching five clearances, three interceptions, and four tackles. Currently, in his prime years, Mari will surely provide Gabriel with stiff enough competition to keep the former Lille man on his toes.
Mari is vindicating Edu and Mikel Arteta‘s transfer strategy and showing exactly why two left-footed center-backs were sought after. The drop off from one to the other hasn’t been earth-shattering at the very least.
Mari is certainly coming good and he should be commended for his hard work and dedication. It’s been a very long time since Arsenal fans have actually seen competent depth. Especially at center back. However, we must not get confused, Pablo Mari is just that, depth.