Arsenal were efficient in their 5-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, and I bet no Gooner would object to them leaving for Dubai to train every week.
Gabriel Magalhaes was one Gunner who returned from the Dubai training camp with a bang; he headed in the opening and could have easily picked up a first-half brace if his header for Arsenal’s second goal had not been credited as a Dean Henderson own goal.
Well, the Brazilian defender is surely winning over Arsenal fans as he continues his resurgence this season. Watching him defend and score goals, going forward, some Gooners would never consider playing without him. However, there was anxiety about him; the Brazilian centre defender went down following a tackle, and many believed Mikel Arteta’s substitution of him was due to an injury. To lessen the stress over whether Gabriel was injured or not, Arteta explained that he didn’t take him off because he was injured, but because he didn’t want to take any further risks with him on the pitch, so he substituted him for Jakub Kiwior.
“The same with big Gabi as well,” Arteta stated about why he subbed off Gabriel. “He had some discomfort; he had a tackle in the first half and was a bit struggling, so it was the right moment to take them off.”
Even so, the 26-year-old’s brilliance in that game overshadowed the possibility that he had been wounded (which he was not). Aside from the goals in the first half, he was block-solid on defence. He completed 88% of his passes, hit 5 of his 7 long balls, won 5 of 7 aerial duels, and committed 3 fouls.
Although William Saliba receives all the credit for Arsenal’s defensive success, it is his combination with Gabriel that lays the groundwork for Arsenal’s defensive strength.