Gilberto to stay for new era
By Ben Blackmore
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsenal midfielder Gilberto is excited by the new era forming at Highbury.
After the immeasurable loss of the influential Patrick Vieira, Arsenal are slowly coming to terms with a new era at Highbury, led by a new generation of starlets.
Youngsters Mathieu Flamini and Cesc Fabregas will be relied on heavily if The Gunners are to form a serious Premiership challenge this season, and the experienced head of Brazilian Gilberto will have to take on the responsibility of guiding such talents.
Thierry Henry has been named captain in the absence of the departed Vieira, but Gilberto acknowledges that there will be more than one leader in the Arsenal side this season.
"A lot of people have said that Arsenal will not be the same without Patrick," Gilberto told the Independent.
"We know how good he was for the team but now we have to play without him and I think on Sunday (against Chelsea) it is a good opportunity to prove we are still strong, the team are a unit and that we are ready for The Premiership.
"People have seen Patrick in the team for so long and it was a very difficult decision for the manager to sell him. I think he was under pressure to make a decision but all the players support the manager in what he did because he knows what he is doing for the club.
"It's different with Thierry as captain because he commands the team in a different way. Patrick commanded the team in the dressing room and talked to the players - if anyone had a doubt he would talk to them and gee them up. But Thierry doesn't need to do it alone; the experienced players are here to help."
Arsene Wenger had hoped to replace Vieira with one of Gilberto's Brazil team-mates, Julio Baptista, but the talented forward was snapped up by Spanish giants Real Madrid.
And the 28-year-old Gilberto did not hesitate to underline the quality of player that Arsenal missed out on.
"He's a good player. If the club had bought him he was going to be in as a striker, I think, from speaking to Arsene. It was a big miss but now we need to continue and forget about that. I think Arsenal will find some other player in the future."
The Highbury faithful can rest assured that their World Cup winner will not be following Vieira out of the door, with Gilberto admitting that he is completely happy in London.
"We are still talking [about a new contract] but I want to stay at this club. They know what I want and it's good that they have ambitions for the team to win something more.
"That's why I want to stay: because they want to win more titles. I am also very happy here. I don't need to move. I am settled, the team is very good and I am playing for a big club with experienced players. I don't think it will be difficult to sign a new contract."
And Gilberto is keen to mark the start of the new era at Arsenal with a huge result against Chelsea on Sunday.
"A win at Stamford Bridge would be fantastic because Chelsea are unbeaten there for a long time."