Gabriel has pledged to redouble his efforts to help get Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes back on track following a two-game slump on the road.
The Gunners first went down 2-1 at Everton and then fell by the same score at Manchester City on Sunday — despite taking the lead on both occasions.
The agonising defeats coincided with the absence through injury of Germany World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi, who has formed an impressive and rock-solid partnership with Laurent Koscielny since his arrival in the summer from Valencia.
With the influential Mustafi missing Wenger has turned to Gabriel, who is preparing for his second Christmas at the Emirates since signing from Spanish outfit Villareal.
And the Samba star says the busy festive period, where Wenger’s side host West Bromwich Albion and then Crystal Palace before going to Bournemouth before heading to Preston in the FA Cup, provides the opportunity to knuckle down and work hard to gain the results needed to try to make an impact at the top of the table.
“When I moved to Europe, I already knew that England was the only country where you keep playing during the festive period.”
“When I played in Spain, I got a few days off to enjoy with my family. But that’s not the case here. There’s no pause, it’s all about working. We players can’t think about partying, we only focus on our job. We are focused on what we have to do.”
Despite his commitment to focus on jinking defenders rather than jingle bells, Gabriel admits the fact that he will be playing rather than partying still feels unusual.
“Brazilians are used to celebrating the festive season, it is strange. It feels a bit strange to be playing on Christmas Day or on New Year’s Day. It’s indeed unusual for us. But I’ve already put this new reality in my head and I’m focused on my job. Let’s leave the party for later.”
Meanwhile, Mustafi is back on the fitness trail just seven days after suffering a hamstring injury in the 3-1 victory over Stoke City.
He is back working hard in the gym but faces another three weeks on the sidelines before a comeback can be considered.
Team-mate Aaron Ramsey is set to make a return to the first team squad any time soon after missing the past three Premier League games because of a toe injury.