Laurent Koscielny says Arsenal January signing Gabriel is ready for Sunday’s table-topping clash with Chelsea.
The Brazilian has played just seven times for the Gunners since he joined from Villarreal in the winter transfer window.
However, following an ankle knock to Per Mertesacker in the FA Cup semi-final last weekend, Gabriel could be called upon against the Blues and start his most difficult Arsenal game to date.
The 24-year-old was impressive against the Royals at Wembley – granted they are a struggling Championship side – dominating the tackle and even proving a threat on set pieces, hitting the bar from a corner.
Chelsea is an entirely different proposition, however, but one that Laurent Koscielny is adamant Gabriel is ready for and says he has no concerns about playing alongside his defensive partner this weekend if needs be.
“I play very well with Per but I also play very well with Gabriel as well,” Koscielny said to Arsenal.com.
“They’re different players who approach the game differently but with the same quality.
“The most important thing is to establish a centre-back pairing, so we need to talk a lot. I know that Gabriel is trying to learn English so that’s good for us. We have good defenders who can play for the team and who want to win for the team.
“Gabriel only arrived in January but he has done well in the games he has played. He’s strong, he’s quick, his mentality means he is ready to fight against Chelsea, so I don’t have any problems with starting alongside him.
“We are well equipped to play Chelsea now. We are stronger than we were at the start of the season and we want to keep our quality to extend our winning run.”
Arsene Wenger will be looking for his first victory against Jose Mourinho when the two sides meet at the Emirates on Sunday.
The Frenchman hasn’t managed a win in their previous 12 bouts but will perhaps feel his squad is most capable of doing so now after a spell of good form and winning a series of high-profile scalps this season.