Arsenal fans can sit back and relax as their London rivals Chelsea get their Champions League knock-out campaign underway. The Gunners won't face AS Monaco at the Emirates until next week where they will be expected to claim a significant advantage ahead of the second leg in France.
Luckily for Arsene Wenger, he will go into the campaign with all but one of his first team defenders available for selection - as long as nothing changes between now and next Wednesday. That includes January addition Gabriel, who joined from Villarreal in an £11.3 million deal.
The uncapped Brazilian centre-back made his anticipated debut against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth round, where he helped Arsenal to a clean sheet and a 2-0 win. Having been at Arsenal for almost a month, Kieran Gibbs has been the first of his new team-mates to update us on how Gabriel is settling into life in north London.
"He doesn't speak any English at the moment and it was the same with Alexis when he came. It won't take him long"
Gabriel's English lessons
Gibbs told Arsenal's official website: "I felt he came in on his debut and did extremely well. He looks like he has been playing at this level for a long time. He has settled in straight away which is good for us.
"At this stage of the season, we don't want to have any excuses that we fell short from injuries. It is nice to know that we have got a good solid central defence who are all available.
"He doesn't speak any English at the moment and it was the same with Alexis when he came. It won't take him long. We've brushed him up on a few of the sayings for him to get used to.
"There's some pointing and shouting because in training and stuff in the week, Steve [Bould] goes through it with him with one of the Spanish boys who then translates for him what it means in English so he understands when it is said to him on the pitch he knows what to do. That's what is starts from and to get a good understanding it is important.
"One of the biggest things that I've realised from the Boro game from him that he embraces the physical side of the game. That's what we want from a centre-half."
Cazorla to Atletico Madrid
Reports on the continent claimed that Santi Cazorla had already agreed a deal in principle to join Atletico Madrid at the end of the season. Those reports seem premature, but Spanish football expert Guillem Balague believes there is at least something going on.
“He has 18 months left on his contract at Arsenal, and Atletico have contacted Cazorla’s entourage,” Balague told Revista de la Liga. ”Atletico are convinced that they can persuade the player to join them. Then they just have to pay the money.
"There will be one year left on his contract in the summer, and will be available for cheaper.”
Dybala talks ongoing?
While Cazorla may be heading away from the Gunners, there are growing reports that Arsenal are emerging as the frontrunners to sign Palermo striker Paulo Dybala. The latest revelation is that club president Maurizio Zamparini confirmed he had recently travelled to London for transfer talks.
"Paulo Dybala, although very young is one of the best strikers in the world," Zamparini is quoted in talkSPORT as saying.
"His future? The problem is not the boy but his agents. I am sorry for this. I've been to London and I have received calls from all over Europe.
The name of the club he met is retained and Manchester City and Manchester United remain interested. However, Dybala has in the past claimed a move to Arsenal would be too good to turn down.
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