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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 1, 2007

Wenger insists Gilberto still has 'key' role

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists midfielder Gilberto is still a 'key person' in his plans.

Despite being a mainstay of the Gunners' team in recent seasons the form of Mathieu Flamini has kept the Brazil international out of Wenger's side, who remain unbeaten this season.

The 31-year-old, who has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium, was recalled for last night's 3-0 Carling Cup victory at Sheffield United and his experience proved invaluable to Wenger's young side.

But the Frenchman opted to hand the captain's armband to goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, a summer arrival, rather than a player he has previously chosen as skipper on numerous occasions.

And Wenger insisted afterwards that nothing should be read into the decision.

'I didn't give the captaincy to Gilberto at the start of the season because I didn't want to give it him and take it away again,' he said.

'Gilberto was a real leader on the pitch for me.There's basically no problem.

'I don't know why people see a problem with Gilberto. The only problem is that he doesn't get at the moment the number of games that he deserves.'

And Wenger believes the World Cup winner still has a crucial role to play for him at the club.

'He is still a key person for me. There's not a lot more say,' he added.

'There is no problem so I cannot create one, apart from the captaincy problem I have explained and he is perfectly aware of that.'

On last night's performance, another future key player for the Arsenal boss could be Eduardo Da Silva after he struck early in each half before Denilson's deflected effort sealed a comfortable victory.

The 24-year-old had previously made an indifferent start to life at the Emirates Stadium, scoring the last of his two goals for the Gunners against Sevilla in the Champions League on September 19. But Wenger believes there are signs the Croatia international is turning the corner.

'He started very well - like many people who come here - but after a little bit of a dip, then a problem with his ankle, he now looks to me like he is starting to settle and come back.'

One Blades fan left Bryan Robson in no uncertain terms what he thought of the performance when he ran on the field and threw his scarf at the Blades boss.

'I think it was a bit unjustified,' Robson said. 'Arsenal are doing that to teams like Liverpool and Newcastle.

'I made eight changes myself because of cup-tied players and injuries to give people a chance who have done quite well as squad players.

'We have got two really important league games coming up on Saturday and Tuesday and I had to have that in mind as well.

'It doesn't bother me. It's only a single fan. Arsenal can do that to any team.'

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