Is Gabriel perfectly suited to Arsenal’s new system?

As Arsenal secured an all-important victory over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the FA Cup, there were some stand-out performers in the red and white of the Gunners. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rob Holding and of course, Alexis Sanchez, all stood out for Arsene Wenger’s team, but one player who I was pleasantly surprised by was Gabriel, who unarguably had his best game in an Arsenal shirt.

Simply put, Gabriel was a stalwart in a much-improved Arsenal backline. The defender made numerous vital interceptions, made strong tackles, was good in the air and maintained high levels of concentration throughout the 120 minutes of the game. But more than any other aspect of his performance, his drive and desire impressed me the most. Gabriel simply did not back down and took his golden opportunity in the semi-final of the FA Cup with both hands.

Since his move to England in January 2015, the Brazilian has had a somewhat hit-and-miss spell at the Emirates. While he did have some good performances showing pace, effectiveness in the air and an iron will, the player has also made some glaring errors which have resulted in the former Villareal man dropping down the pecking order of central defenders at Arsenal. But in my opinion, he really made a statement with that performance last night.

While it is certainly not advisable to judge a player by one performance, I believe Gabriel’s display at Wembley can be the stepping stone to further improvement. When it comes to ability, the 26-year-old is blessed with ample pace, aerial prowess and a dogged determination on the pitch and perhaps one area that requires improvement is his positioning, but I believe that will improve once he becomes more comfortable with the language. Nonetheless, Gabriel is another player that has benefited as a result of the new system and I hope to see him scale greater heights in an Arsenal shirt.



  1. Pablo Picaso says:

    He has the right physicality, aggression and passion to succeed in the PL, all he needs now is to calm down a little and just play his game.

    No need for rash decisions Gabriel, talk to people like Sol and Kolo who were also physical but calm and collected when doing their job at the back.

  2. Keston says:

    He just needs more playing time. You are now starting to see the improvement in his game.

  3. Fatboy Gooney says:

    Yes, Gabriel played very well, as did Holding but the real question is..
    Is it really down to the new formation or is it the new mindset that has been installed that brought out the best in Gabriel?
    Personally, I think yesterday’s improved performance was more down to the mentally being Right amongst the majority of our players, there was a togetherness with fighting spirit. (With the exception of one or two)
    Don’t get me wrong, the new formation has breathed a new lease of life into the team but isn’t that still a mental thing??

    Anyways, I guess that the board must be happy ??? now that there’s a guaranteed route into Europe by reaching the finals, what with Chelsea being top of the league…. But we don’t want to be dealing with that ? Here’s hoping for an unbeaten run that will see us leapfrog the spuds and win the FA cup ?? haven’t we seen this movie before? ?

    1. Sarsfield says:

      Can someone please confirm whether Fatboy is correct that by reaching the final we are guaranteed European football?

  4. Vanpayslip is the truest/name a troll I ain't influenced says:

    It’s an odd one because –

    If we had a proper dm then that is the same as a 3rd defender. Essentially a back 4 with dm = 3 at the back with 2 wing backs because in the former the dm drops to cover which full back is attacking (or drops into the middle and the cd pushes up wide) whereas in a back 3 that is fixed.

    So it comes back to why is this being addressed now by Wenger? This has been an issue since back when a teenage Fabregas came into the scene.

  5. ramterta says:

    we won the game in ET
    Sane was outrunning our defense.
    Toure and fernandinho both hit the post.
    City had strong calls ignored against them.
    Guys please stop putting so much focus in yesterday’s game it wasn’t a vintage performance

    1. Darthballs says:

      Don’t be a Debbie downer a win is a win enjoy it

  6. crispen says:


  7. Red Dawn says:

    One game and its problems over and in “Wenger we trust”.
    I won’t change my tune – the manager needs to go and the sooner the better.
    On chances and possession Arsenal never deserved to win that game.
    We were as reliant on their poor finishing and defending as we were taking our chances.
    They have done well but lets not start thinking we are back on track because we clearly are not..

  8. Break-on-through says:

    He has a chance now with Mustafi out, he needs to take it, that’s probably whats is in his mind. It would be unfair for Holding to miss out, as he’s been the most consistent one. With Holding and Gabriel I like that our aerial competence has improved greatly with the extra height and aggression and the way they attack the ball. It is one game like said, and v Midd he showed some error prone moments. If he could play like this most of the time, Mustafi would have a difficult time getting back into the side.

    I definitely like the new formation now with some strong defensive performances backing it up, but it should be remembered that we drew against city with the old formation too, but some noticeable differences with our defending all the same. I feel we still have allot of growing to do with the new system, but I like how some players have taken to it so quickly and how our team shape has improved. I would still want to see Wenger use the old formation, maybe switching from 4231, 4141, 352, just to keep the opposite numbers guessing.

  9. Ronny says:

    What I like about holding is he goes about his business quietly and efficiently.
    Gabriel and definitely mustafi tend to be more noisy shall we say. Not always necessary.

  10. jimmymack says:

    we all need to calm down a bit that system wasn’t working in the first half. but its the first time ive seen us play with a bit of grit and steel since gilberto and alex song were around.
    i personally wonder if wenger has told the players hes going especially with some of the comments by AOC about winning it for arsene, and this sudden team spirit is because they are all facing playing for WBA next season if they don’t pull their fingers out when the new man comes in.

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