Kieran Gibbs was impressed with Gabriel Paulista, who made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt on Sunday afternoon.
Arsene Wenger paid £11.2million for the Valencia star towards the end of the January transfer window, as he looked to add more options to his Gunners back four. The uncapped Brazilian sat on the bench as he watched his new side lose at Tottenham Hotspur upon his arrival, and was also an unused substitute three days later when the capital club beat Leicester City 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
Gabriel was given his debut for his new club in the FA Cup on Sunday, and although he had little to do in a comfortable 2-0 win over Championship side Middlesbrough, he will be pleased to have played ninety minutes and kept a clean sheet in his introduction to English football. And although a yellow card slightly marred his first appearance, the 24-year-old won the praise of Gibbs.
“He looks like he has been playing at this level for a long time,” said the England international. “He has settled in straight away and embraces the physical side of the game. That is what we want from a centre-half. Gabriel doesn’t speak any English at the moment and it was the same with Alexis (Sanchez) when he came. It won’t take him long. We have brushed him up on a few of the sayings.”
Another Arsenal player who is receiving plaudits is Olivier Giroud. The France international hasn’t always been the flavour of the month at the Emirates Stadium, but there is no doubt that the Gunners are a better side when he is involved. The former Montpellier striker scored both goals to ensure the holders progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, taking his tally to nine goals in 16 matches.
Speaking after the win over Boro, Wenger said: “I believe that he (Giroud) is a different player today than the guy who arrived here. He understands what top-level football demands, works with a great concentration in training and he has improved tremendously on his mobility. All the strikers we have can play in different positions. The only one who can only play centre forward is Olivier Giroud, so when Giroud plays the others have to move out wide.”