Wenger: I was not convinced about this Arsenal player before handing him new role v Bournemouth
By Emma Sanders
Arsene Wenger admitted he watched Gabriel play at full-back before he joined Arsenal and wasn’t convinced by the Brazilian in that position.
But the Gunners manager was pleased with how the defender played as an emergency right-back during the 3-1 victory against Bournemouth on Sunday.
The Brazilian was thrust into the game after just 15 minutes after Mathieu Debuchy was forced to come off through injury in his first start for Arsenal in over a year.
Wenger said Debuchy’s injury is believed to be “severe” and, with Hector Bellerin already facing another few weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury, Gabriel was forced to play in an unfamiliar role at the weekend.
Wenger’s options were depleted after he left Carl Jenkinson out of the squad entirely, despite the 24-year-old being in the starting XI against Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.
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“I had Francis Coquelin ready to play right back as well because he can play there, but I went for Gabriel because he’s a defender and is very quick. He adapted well,” said Wenger, as quoted by the Evening Standard.
“I watched tapes of him playing full-back at Villarreal. On two or three occasions he played at left back and I found just one tape of him playing at right back. He was playing in Brazil and I must say that it was not super convincing, but today he did well.”
The 26-year-old could now be handed a start against Southampton when Arsenal host the Premier League side in the quarter-final of the EFL Cup after producing a fairly encouraging performance against Bournemouth.
Gabriel has made just three appearances in the last three months and has only notched up 40 total games for the club since joining in January 2015 but could have a chance to prove himself in the next few weeks.
Jenkinson will now face a battle to regain a place in the side after he was axed from the squad following poor performances in his last two starts.
In other Arsenal news, this is how fans reacted to Debuchy’s injury against Bournemouth.