The Gunners boss admits videos of the Brazilian operating at full-back did not fill him with confidence, but was pleased with how he fared against Bournemouth
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was relieved to see a defensive gamble pay off against Bournemouth, with injury problems forcing him to use Gabriel as a makeshift right-back.
The Gunners started a Premier League encounter against the Cherries with Mathieu Debuchy operating in his most natural position, but the Frenchman lasted just 16 minutes.
With Hector Bellerin currently sidelined and Carl Jenkinson seemingly out of favour after two disjointed displays against Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, Wenger was forced to get creative as another senior star headed back to the treatment table.
He admits videos of Gabriel playing at full-back during his time at Vitoria in his native Brazil were not ‘super convincing’, but he was left with little choice.
The 26-year-old justified the show of faith with a composed performance in a 3-1 victory, and could now fill a covering post for the foreseeable future.
Wenger claims defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin could also slot into the back four if required, but Gabriel would appear to have played his away into contention and nudged Jenkinson another notch down the pecking order.
“I imagined that something can happen to [Debuchy],” the Arsenal manager said after Sunday’s victory at Emirates Stadium.
“I had Coquelin who was ready to play right-back as well. But I have gone for Gabriel, because he is more a defender and he’s very quick.
“And he adapted well. I watched tapes of him of playing full-back at Villarreal, two or three times he played left-back.
“I found only one tape of him playing in Brazil as a right-back, and I must say it was not super convincing. But I think today he did well.”
Arsenal need Gabriel to step up in the absence of stricken team-mates, as the Gunners are set to find themselves short of options at right-back for some time.
Bellerin has revealed that his recovery is going ‘better than expected’, but an ankle problem was initially expected to keep him out of action until Christmas.
Wenger has already admitted that Debuchy’s latest ailment is likely to be ‘severe’, with a hamstring injury forcing him off over the weekend.
Jenkinson would be the most logical choice to step in, but he has struggled to replicate the level of performance that caught the eye during loan spells at West Ham since returning to north London and does not appear to figure in Arsenal’s plans at present.