He took a page out of Freddie Mercury’s song book, by saying that the departure of Ljungberg and Henry must not stop the show at Arsenal. I do agree with him. Do you? To make up your mind, you can read what he said right after this sentence finishes.
How did you feel when Arsene Wenger ordered you to have a three week holiday after the Copa America and begin the new season later than the others?
It was important for me to get some rest after a very hard season in England and the intensity of the Copa America. I’m glad Arsene thought so too, and I believe this holiday will help me to come back in good shape in order to help the team in the Premiership and the Champions League qualification.
How confident are you that your exertions in Venezuela won’t have a detrimental effect on your performances for Arsenal?
It’s simple: more rest will give me more energy for the physical demands of the Premiership. It’s not that we have a group full of newbies - a lot of the players know each other and I don’t think my absence will make things difficult.
What do you think of the new Brazilian-born signing Eduardo?
Eduardo spent a long time unknown to a lot of Brazilians because he plied his trade in Croatia. I have not had had any significant chances to see him playing, but Eduardo would not have been signed by Arsenal if the manager and the club didn’t think he was up to the job. Having said that, I find it a bit dangerous when people state that Eduardo has come to fill Henry’s shoes - it is important that people give him time do adapt to the Premiership instead of drawing comparisons.
Did you speak to Eduardo about Arsenal before he signed or was his move a surprise to you?
I had never spoken to him before. As for the move, it was a surprise only because his name had not come up in transfer rumours, but the man was a prolific scorer in Croatia and should prove a valuable signing for us.
What is going to be the main difference on and off the pitch now that Henry and Ljungberg are no longer around at the Emirates?
I think that a strong group has been what kept us going in the last few years. As much as Henry and Ljungberg are great players and will be missed, we have to go on and not keep thinking of the past. We made that mistake for a while after Patrick Vieira left in 2005, but I reckon the players have learned that the show has to go on.
Was it the right decision to sell Henry at this time? Why?
It’s not for me to say. Decisions of this kind involve major club and personal decisions and you just shouldn’t question them. I wish Thierry the best for his career. He’s gone and we have to deal with it.
Were Henry’s frustrations causing morale to be affected within the squad – or do you feel that might have happened if he’d stayed longer?
It would be a bit silly to speculate about “ifs and maybes”. Thierry wasn’t the only player unhappy with our problems last year and I don’t think his dissatisfaction was any problem for the squad in terms of morale.
Freddie said Arsenal are lacking ambition. What do you think? Would you like to see a huge name player sign for Arsenal this season?
There is no lack of ambition at this club, that’s for sure. The players are willing to repay Arsene’s vote of confidence with a lot of effort on and off the pitch. It’s easy to accuse the club, but we all know Arsenal has dealt with the situation of a new stadium and the subsequent squeeze in money. On the other hand, I do believe we have a quality group that’s ready to show its value for fans and critics.
Wenger has said that Van Persie will blossom and become as important to the team as Henry was – can you ever see that happening?
Robbie had already shown a huge progress before injuring himself last season, and I can only believe he will be looking forward to assume more responsibilities now. He is already an important player for Arsenal because we missed him in a lot of games last season, so I am happy he is back to fitness.
Wenger’s future has been the subject of much speculation. Do you feel certain he will stay with Arsenal? Why?
A lot has been said about it, but what I can say is that Arsene Wenger is the symbol of Arsenal and perhaps the most important figure at the club now. All the players would love him to stay for as long as possible.
What can this Arsenal team realistically achieve this season?
The first objective is to the start the Premiership well and to qualify for the Champions League main draw. I have faith in our team, especially as the younger players have already got some experience. If we get some momentum going, we are going to be a tough side against any team.
What do you say to those people predicting that Spurs will be better than Arsenal this season? Is that a joke?!
Let’s wait until the end of the season and then talk about it. I have the feeling it’s a bit too early to make such an ambitious prediction. They have signed a lot of players and certainly have improved in the last few seasons, but there is a long season ahead all of us.
Will you finish your career at Arsenal if they give you the chance?
Why not? This is the club that gave me my first chance to play club football outside Brazil and I have been really happy in London. Had great times winning titles and even played in a European Cup final. If the chance comes, it would be extremely honourable to finish my career as a Gunner.
It’s all good positive vibes there from Gilberto, especially the last sentence in particular which does warm the heart.