BBC pundit says he never viewed Arsenal's Gabriel as top class, changing his mind

Arsenal's Gabriel Paulista celebrates after the match

Garth Crooks praises Arsenal's Gabriel Paulista.

Arsenal's Gabriel Paulista celebrates after the matchArsenal's Gabriel Paulista celebrates after the match

BBC pundit Garth Crooks has admitted he is changing his mind on Arsenal star Gabriel Paulista after his performance in the FA Cup semi-final.

Gabriel starred as part of a back three as Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 after extra time in Sunday's clash at Wembley.

Crooks told BBC Sport he was impressed with the Brazilian, naming him in his Team of the Weekend, along with left-back Nacho Monreal.

He said: "I've never been completely convinced by Gabriel as a top-class defender but against Manchester City he was superb.

"For me he always seems to be a tackle away from a sending-off but he was disciplined and focused and not remotely interested in ugly confrontation.

"If Gabriel can take the petty squabbling with the opposition out of his game, and simply concentrate on his job, he could be a real asset for Arsenal."

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Gabriel Paulista in action with Chelsea's Willian and Marcos AlonsoArsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Gabriel Paulista in action with Chelsea's Willian and Marcos Alonso

Of course Gabriel faces a tough test in doing this in the final, when he will come up against his nemesis, Chelsea striker Diego Costa.

He clashed with him for Arsenal against Chelsea and in Spain with Villarreal against Atletico Madrid.

Gabriel made three tackles against Chelsea, three interceptions, and provided six clearances.

He also helped inexperienced partner Rob Holding along with the excellent Laurent Koscielny, with the trio working effectively as a unit.

He has only made 12 Premier League starts for Arsenal this season. After Sunday's performance he may have earned a few more.

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