Arsene Wenger reveals Arsenal defender problem before crucial Leicester clash
PUBLISHED: 07:45 13 February 2016
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says defender Gabriel is still struggling to grasp the English language.
Gabriel has been at the club for just over a year, having signed from Villarreal for a fee in the region of £11.5m in January 2015.
The Brazilian has spent much of his time at the Emirates Stadium on the bench with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny preferred in the centre of defence, but he has impressed Wenger whenever called upon.
Gabriel was handed a chance to start at the end of last month when Mertesacker received a one-game suspension, and the 25-year-old has kept his place in the side after keeping two clean sheets and conceding just once in three games.
He looks likely to play against Leicester on Sunday in a massive Premier League clash, but Wenger says the centre-back’s struggles with English could cause some difficulties in the defence alongside the quiet Koscielny.
“Gabriel adapted slowly to the Premier League but today I think he has adapted,” Wenger said. “He is still a young central defender but I think he shows his potential.
“There is an issue with language. Neither of them [Gabriel and Koscielny] is a real commander. I ask Petr Cech to lead a bit more because they don’t talk too much.
“Koscielny is a silent leader and Gabriel at the moment has not mastered English. I don’t think he is a natural extroverted central defender. There are still some issues with that [his English] but he is improving.
“For a while he lived in a completely Brazilian environment. Then he came in and went with the Spanish players and only spoke Spanish. Sometimes you have to force yourself when you are away from home to not speak only to Spanish-speaking people.”
Arsenal host league leaders Leicester on Sunday in need of a positive result to maintain their title challenge.
The high-flying Foxes beat Manchester City away last weekend and they sit 5 points clear of the Gunners and Tottenham with 13 games remaining this season.