Arsene Wenger may have made a definitive statement on the future of Arsenal’s defence with the decision to drop Per Mertesacker today.
That’s according to Gunners legend Martin Keown, who thinks that it could be a ‘defining moment’ for Arsenal following the humiliating 3-1 defeat to Monaco at the Emirates Stadium in the Champions League earlier this week.
Speaking to BT Sport, Keown said upon hearing the news that Mertesacker was not involved: “I don’t think you can point the finger at one player after the Monaco game. It’s a big chance for Gabriel now though.
“I think it could be a defining moment in changing Arsenal’s back four now, for sure. Mertesacker, with the experience he has in the game, should have been calling these young players back the other night, the two full-backs were just drifting up the pitch and not coming back.
“When he’s been left isolated he struggles due to his lack of pace too. Gabriel is keen to defend so he’ll be relishing the opportunity to stamp his claim for a first-team spot.”
Wenger and Arsenal’s defence in general was roundly criticised after Wednesday’s debacle but the Gunners got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Everton at the Emirates Stadium today.
Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky were the goalscorers.
Gabriel started off slowly and made a couple of questionable defensive headers but he grew into the game and one particular tackle on a charging Romelu Lukaku underlined why Wenger shelled out for him in the January window.
Alongside Laurent Koscielny at the back, he gives Arsenal more pace in defence and is much quicker in the recovery than his German teammate.
It will be interesting to see whether Mertesacker is able to get back in the team, but Koscielny and Gabriel passed this first test well.
What do you think Arsenal fans? Should Wenger recall Mertesacker or did Gabriel do enough to keep his place in central defence?