Arsene Wenger criticised Arsenal’s weakness in the air against West Ham, which begs the question: why did he start Gabriel over Per Mertesacker?
Gabriel isn’t known for his aerial ability and against a team like West Ham, where all of their players are at least seven foot (give-or-take), you’d think we’d perhaps prefer a player at centre-back who could rival this. Now, if only we had a tall, competent, experienced centre-back in the squad…
“We played for our weakness in the air and inside the box,” Wenger said.
“Since the beginning of the season, in some important games, that’s happened to us.”
Quite what Per Mertesacker has done to not get picked week-after-week is beyond me. Not only is he better in the air than Gabriel, he’s positionally sound. I’m not sure whether we would have won the game or whether it would have finished the same way if Per has started but I do know that he wouldn’t have let Andy Carroll look like a world beater.
If Wenger was aware of this, why did he start Gabriel? And if he, as a human being with eyes, could see what was happening, why didn’t he make a change?