By Richard Clarke

Something strange has happened to Gilberto this season.

Before this term, the Arsenal midfielder had played 113 Premiership games and scored six goals. However the Boxing Day victory at Watford was his 19th match of the current campaign and brought his seventh strike.

If the Brazilian scores just once more this term he'll match his combined tally from 126 appearances for America MG, Atletico Minero and Brazil.

They are truly head-scratching statistics and even the man himself is surprised.

"It's the first time I've scored that many and I am very impressed with myself," he said.

"It has never happened before but I am very happy and proud of my performances and those of the team.

"I don't know if captaincy has made a difference but I have enjoyed scoring goals. Most
of the time I stand in front of the defenders, doing the hard job, holding the midfield and stopping them playing out of defence. It is not very common. I [normally] don't have many chances."

The Watford strike was typical Gilberto. It came just seconds after he had slid in six yards from his own goal to stop Ashley Young getting his shot away.          

"Most of the time I try to be in the right place," he smiled. "Especially in the defensive part, like when I put in that tackle in the first half. It's so important I stay alert and that we don't concede the first goal. Then we scored."

Notice he said "we" not "I". That is typical Gilberto, an underrated player who has taken over numerous responsibilities this season - captaincy, penalty-taker, senior player. He was even penciled in to play as a makeshift centre half when Arsenal had an injury crisis at the back.

"It's not just down to me," he said. "We work as a team. In the last few games, we have showed a fantastic spirit. We have played as a team as we have to and showed fantastic skills on the pitch."

Meanwhile Gilberto's goals are doing the rest.

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Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Richard Clarke 28 Dec 2006