Lee Dixon would like to see Gabriel Paulista replace the injured Coquelin

Former Arsenal player Lee Dixon would like to see defender Gabriel Paulista step up and replace the injured Francis Coquelin in defensive midfield, he has told BreatheSport.

The Gunners have been dealt a huge dilemma after learning that influential holding midfielder Coquelin has been ruled out for up to three months with a knee ligament injury.

Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta are natural replacements, but both players are now in their 30s and arguably lack the drive and energy needed to compete with the very best teams.

With the January transfer window still five weeks away, Wenger has a tough job on his hands in finding a decent alternative but in the meantime Dixon believes Gabriel could fulfil the void.

“Arsenal’s biggest disappointment over the last few weeks is the injury to Coquelin,” Dixon explained.

“Coquelin getting injured was always going to happen at some point, he’s done extremely well in that holding role. Can they fill that gap? Can Chambers maybe get a chance in that position?

“I’d like to see Gabriel in there, I think he could do a really good job, but I’ve got a feeling we are going to need him at centre-back.”

Gabriel joined Arsenal from Villarreal last January but he hasn’t featured much, what with Wenger preferring to maintain the partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

The Brazilian is certainly an energetic player capable of strong challenges, but his lack of Premier League experience and positional awareness could pose potential problems.

It appears that Flamini will get the nod for Arsenal’s trip to Norwich City this weekend, although one can only wonder whether the Frenchman has the legs to play up to three games a week.

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