By Richard Clarke
Last season, it would have been difficult to imagine Gilberto not starting in the Arsenal side. Aside from his combative midfield duties, the Brazilian also took on the captaincy and the penalty-taking in a challenging campaign.
This term, he has found himself out of the side. His spell at
the Copa America saw him report back to training later than the
rest of the squad and consequently he missed much of pre-season
Cesc Fabregas and
Mathieu Flamini started the campaign as the central midfield
pair and, given Arsenal's record of nine wins and a draw from
their first 10 games, have been virtually undroppable. Meanwhile
Tuesday's victory over Newcastle showed the potential of
Denilson and new signing
Wenger's is aware of Gilberto's disappointment.
"Yes I can understand that," he said. "But it's not that you can chat with the guy that he is not disappointed anymore, it's all part of competition.
"Gilberto is an outstanding player - mentally and morally
fantastic - but he accepts competition. I think he is a very good
centre back but as well it is down to the balance of the team.
"I feel at the moment Flamini is playing extremely well. Diarra and Denilson are doing well too. There is tremendous competition, you cannot stop that, but that doesn't take anything away from what Gilberto does, or has done."