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Wenger - How I choose centre-back pair

Gabriel

Arsene Wenger says combating the strengths of an opposition striker is often the key factor in deciding which centre-back pairing he plays.

The Arsenal manager has regularly rotated between Per Mertesacker and Gabriel as Laurent Kocielny’s partner during the second half of the season.

07:04

Close Up: Gabriel

Wenger says there is not much to choose between the pair, as they offer different qualities at the back.

“It’s a very tight choice,” the manager said. “One has more pace, one has more experience and leadership qualities. It depends sometimes against who we play.

“For example last Saturday we expected to play against Sakho who has more pace and not especially against Carroll who is better in the air.

“We bought Gabriel and we have to give him a chance to develop as a player. In training he has shown signs of developing well so I gave him a chance and the team functioned well at Everton, at Barcelona and against Watford. There is not always an obvious reason to change.

“Ideally I want a stability there. But in some exceptional cases, when a team plays against you only on counter-attack, you can consider [change]. But normally I like to play every week with the same central defenders.”

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