‘Christmas is about family and focus'

There will be plenty of distractions away from football over the festive period but Gabriel will not be losing his focus any time soon.

The Brazilian defender has played in each of our last seven games, covering at right back and centre back for Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi respectively.

Now faced with the prospect of three Premier League games in the space of nine days, Gabriel will allow himself time for family fun, but not at the expense of hard work at the training ground.

on the biggest challenges he’s faced over Christmas…
There’s nothing specific that I’ve noticed. In Brazil, for instance, people say that there are many matches in the calendar, but if you think about it, it’s the same as Europe. The only difference may be the international break, when the leagues have a break in Europe but not in Brazil. That’s the difference. You’ve got to be fit and mentally prepared for all of these games, otherwise it’s a waste of time and we don’t achieve our goals.

on how he’s planning on celebrating…
I’m thinking of bringing my parents here. I like to be with my family on Christmas Eve. We’ll have dinner together, something traditional in Brazil. But if they can’t come for any reason, I’ve got my wife, my son and friends here as well.

on being mentally prepared…
When we are at the club, we’re totally focused in here. We don’t think of anything else. When we’re off, we want to leave football aside a little bit and think about family and friends. We want to try to enjoy the day. In this busy football life, sometimes we can’t enjoy time with the family because we are too concentrated. When we are off, it’s great to enjoy things with our relatives and friends, especially for us Brazilians because we are so far away from our families in Brazil. It’s really important to be surrounded by friends here.

on spending time with South Americans…
We do have a great relationship at Arsenal, all of us including the South Americans. We’re friends and sometimes we go out for dinner together with our families. However, on Christmas Eve it’s more of a family thing, so all of us are with our own parents, siblings and close friends. Each of us organise something at home because it’s a special night to enjoy with your family.

on whether he will have time to celebrate…
I think all players just want to be focused on the game, rather than celebrating. If I do have some time, I’ll organise a dinner with my friends to make the most of the short time off. Then, I have to be ready and focused again.


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