Lining up with Gabriel over Per Mertesacker in recent weeks, it was a surprise to see Arsène Wenger hail the importance of communication at the back on Friday morning.
The Arsenal boss was asked about comments from Southampton manager Ronald Koeman after the Dutchman bemoaned modern players and their obsession with music and mobile phones earlier this week. Southampton are giving their players lessons in communication and Wenger believes such a move is a good one to make.
“We try to work a lot on that and I think maybe it was a bit more obvious before,” said the Arsenal manager. “In training, everybody had the same culture before.
“I would say the communication in England was always at a higher level than every other country and I noticed that when I was with Monaco. We had a tour here in 1988 and I looked at some training sessions, I was always surprised by how loud the communication was in the English teams compared to my Monaco team, for example.”
Nowadays players come from all over the world, which naturally provides issues when it comes to communicating quickly and clearly. Luckily for Arsenal, Petr Čech can speak a number of languages fluently and his back four are always comfortable.
Unfortunately, Gabriel and David Ospina aren’t really fluent in English at all. Gabriel even struggles at times in Spanish, having spent just a brief time at Villarreal, and it could be the difference between winning and losing.
“The communication is very important, especially at the back sometimes just to tell the guys around you to come closer or drop off. It can save a goal, it’s a vital part of defensive efficiency.”
In a game of such fine margins, communication is vital for defences to work cohesively. If the Arsenal backline isn’t communicating well, how can it be expected to be well positioned and intelligently fend off opposition attacks?
I guess we’ll see how highly the boss really values communication when he selects either Gabriel or Per Mertesacker on Sunday.