Gabriel Paulista in squad for Arsenal V Aston Villa Premier League clash: Arsene Wenger at London Colney

Alexis Sánchez with the ball

Alexis Sánchez with the ball - Credit: Archant

With his recent hamstring injury, Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez is a possible no-show for this weekend’s Premier League match against Aston Villa, boss Arsene Wenger has warned.

But new signing Gabriel Paulista is a likely starter, an upbeat Wenger told reporters at this morning’s (Friday) press conference at the team’s London Colney training grounds.

Sanchez will undergo more testing tomorrow but Wenger said, “it is unlikely I will risk him on Sunday. But we will see.

“Gabriel is ready to go, he will be in the squad. He started training yesterday, and he looks fit.”

Arsenal has signed Brazilian centre back Paulista from Villarreal, with the new player saying on Wednesday that his move to Arsenal was a “dream come true”.


You may also want to watch:


The team he left described him as a key player who was dedicated and an outstanding professional.

Having welcomed Paulista to the Gunners, Wenger admitted that his new player, who he described as a “specialist in the centre back position”, cannot speak English.

Most Read

Wenger said: “I see a great quality forward defender – his level of concentration, physically capable to adapt because he is a good size and quick as well. He is young, 24 years old.”

When quizzed about the importance of fans not expecting too much too soon from his new addition, Wenger agreed, saying Paulista would need time to adapt in the defensive position as he would need to know his partners, but “he doesn’t speak a word of English”.

Wenger added: “That can cost you goals. If you mix going forwards with going backwards, it can cost you.

“We are trying to teach him the important words – offside, look at the linesman.”

Asked about players’ contracts – in particular Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin Wenger said that there was nothing to announce on Arteta, but in regards to Coquelin, the club was “99 per cent [certain] he will stay here”.

The Gunners’ boss was in good humour today, despite reporters’ questions on new signings before the end of the transfer window.

When asked whether he still has his eyes on anyone, he responded: “I wake up in the morning and if someone is standing in front of my door, and is an exceptional player, I will open the door. But it looks very unlikely now.

“I can give you my address if you want.”

The reporter replied: “You don’t want me standing outside your door. If you sign me, you are going downhill.”

Wenger confirmed he was happy with the current team.

Players themselves have praised camaraderie within the first team with the likes of Calum Chambers, recently quoted on Arsenal.com, saying “there’s a good atmosphere in the squad at the moment”.

Wenger said yesterday (Thursday) that this weekend’s squad will be exactly the same as last Sunday’s, when Theo Walcott scored his first goal for more than a year, and the Gunners’ beat Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 in the FA Cup.

Yesterday when updating the ongoing recovery of injured players, he said Danny Welbeck is “nearly there” and will be available for the Tottenham game.

Harpenden’s Jack Wilshere should join in normal training in 10 days time. But Arteta will take a bit longer.

Tactical expert Michael Cox is quoted on the Gunners’ website describing Aston Villa as being in a “very poor run of form, having failed to win any of their previous seven league matches”.

• Arsenal V Aston Villa, Emirates Stadium Sunday February 1, 1.30pm

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter