Arsene Wenger has backed Gabriel Paulista to cope with the grief and loss he’s feeling this week and to be able to play against West Ham tomorrow.
It sounds as if the Brazilian is in line to start at right back in the absence of Hector Bellerin and Mathieu Debuchy (ruled out for 6 weeks today), and as Carl Jenkinon’s struggles look to cost him his place against the club he spent a season and a half on loan at.
The former Villarreal man released a highly emotional, heart-wrenching video message following the tragic event involving the Chapecoense football club, whose plane crashed in Colombia this week.
It’s tough to watch, as he had a personal connection to a number of the players and staff at the club. However, he was strong enough to play against Southampton in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, and Wenger believes he should be ok to take the field tomorrow.
Asked if he was in the right frame of mind, the boss said, “Yes, I think so. I will have a chat with him today, but if he is in the right frame of mind he will play.
“He has sent a very emotional message to the families of people involved in this crash, but he still played on Wednesday, and if he has recovered well physically and mentally, I will play him as well.”
You have to have a lot of respect for Gabriel, the way he coped on Wednesday was hugely admirable, and maybe it’s a little reminder to all of us that footballers are human too, regardless of their stature or pay-packet.