Gilberto has admitted that sitting on the sidelines this season has been "so hard".

The midfielder, one of the Arsenal's stalwarts last term, has started only four of the team's 11 unbeaten games in the current campaign and just two in his established position in the centre.

The Brazilian, 31 on Sunday, missed much of pre-season because of his involvement in the Copa America. Since then Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini have monopolised the midfield positions as Arsenal have excelled.

"Yes, it has been so frustrating," said Gilberto. "I am on the bench not because of my quality or something like that but because I came back late. It is so hard.

"The only thing I need to do is do my job, respect the manager's decision, respect the other players and the way they play at the moment.

"Of course, when I have the opportunity I want to do the best I can for the team like I have done but it's a slight difference compared to other years.

"It is the first time I haven't been in the team [since I came here]. I confess to you it has been so hard for me.

"Of course I want to come back and play again in my position central midfield. But you need to respect that Mathieu and Cesc are playing very well.

"It is visible to everybody and I need to respect the manager's decision. I will do my best to return to the team. I will see in the next few games what will happen."

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4 Oct 2007