Why Gabriel Paulista must start for Arsenal against Monaco

Arsenal Emirates 2

Arsenal's defensive selections will be just as important against Monaco as the players picked to score the Gunners' goals.

Arsenal may have impressed in their most recent FA Cup and Premier League matches against Manchester United and West Ham United respectively, but this week sees them face a challenge that will take every inch of their talent to overcome.

Arsenal are currently 3-1 down to AS Monaco in the last-16 of the Champions League, and with the French side well in control, and with three away goals to their name, Arsene Wenger’s men have their work cut out to qualify.

That is not to say they cannot do it; only that the Gunners must ensure they get everything right, both on the night and in their build-up, meaning team selection is vital.

In the first leg, Wenger played Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker at centre-back, but in the return fixture, the Arsenal boss would be wise to replace the German international with January signing Gabriel Paulista.

The Brazilian has impressed since his move and his pace could prove vital in a game when Monaco are likely to hit their opponents on the break.

With a healthy lead and home advantage, Monaco do not need to be gung-ho and are likely to sit back, soak up pressure and hit Arsenal when the time is right.

With that in mind Gabriel would be a considerably better option from the start than Mertesacker, and the 24-year-old’s swift recovery from a hamstring injury may have come at the perfect time.

He had been expected to miss this match but having travelled with the squad it is now up to Wenger to decide if he is fit enough to feature.

Such is his talent that he could prove to be the difference between success and failure if Arsenal’s talented front-line can also play their part.

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