Will Gabriel have to wait to rejoin the Arsenal starting line-up?

Gabriel is Not An Automatic Starter by AI

I know this is controversial but hear me out. Gabriel Magalhaes, while being a good individual defender, is not necessarily the best defensive option for Arsenal right now. He is expected to be available for our next game, but should he be automatically reinstated?

Hear me out. In most of the games we have played with Gabriel, Arteta has fielded a back 3. Now, anyone who understands football knows that a back 3 affords greater protection for defenders than a back 2, especially for a defender like Gabriel Maghalaes.

Gabriel is young and a little bit rash. I have spotted him a few times rushing out to defend on his own and hiding inside the defensive line after to cover up. His build-up play has not been much more impressive than Rob Holding’s. While he is aerially dominant and strong in the tackle, it takes more than that to be a good defender.

Hear me out. Gabriel Magalhaes does not communicate well, either with Rob Holding or Bernd Leno. But we can chalk that down to his English speaking capabilities. Pablo Mari offers everything he does plus that sense of calm to the backline. The calm is but the result of Mari’s ability to communicate.

It is not a fluke that we have kept two cleansheets while playing a back 2 with Pablo Mari in it. Gabriel is from the Mustafi school of defending (but without the errors) while Mari is playing like a Mertesacker style commander.

I have been impressed by Gabriel’s athleticism and aerial dominance. He is definitely one for the future but he won’t be the one to transform the defence. Defenders who can bring calm, clarity and assurance to the backline like Van Dijk, Mertesacker, Thiago Silva or Jonny Evans are the transformers. Every backline needs the authority and commanding prescence. Pablo Mari has some of it. Saliba might end up being the one.

But for now, it is not Gabriel, and Mari must be the current starter with his specific qualities.

Agboola Israel

Tags Gabriel Pablo Mari


  1. So are we all forgetting he was player of the month 3 times in a row? Im not saying he is better but mari has done great for how many games? Anyway its nice to think we a choice good cb now so im happy with dilemma.

    1. This post does not make sense.if gabriel is not the best he wouldn’t win the best player for consecutive months.

      1. The post has sense. No arsenal player was turning up in games Gabriel won player of the month. And the writer never said Gabriel is bad, read his post careful to understand not to jus reply

    1. 👍 Competition for positions keeps players focused on contributing to team success to keep their place.

    1. First of all who cares.
      Second that shows Arsenal’s recruiting problems.

      One of the picks could have been used on a different position.

      However 2 good signings are better than the alternatives.

  2. I think gabriel has been superb but if you have players in the same position who are doing good why change, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it

    1. Agree Thomo. Mari has lived up to the task and deserves to be rewarded with more game time.

      Knowing that Gabriel is ready to step in anytime, it’s a nice problem to have. That’s some healthy competition within the squad

    2. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it Mari and Holding for now has to be automatic tired of the chop and change

  3. I’m really glad Mari has had a chance to show himself in the premier league, because I think he’s very good. However I also like Gabriel and think he’s very good too, so it’s a nice problem to have. Also as Luiz / Mustafi are nearer the end of their careers and there is no guarantee Rob Holding will never get an injury, they may end up playing together some times too, which would be great when they both have a bit more premier league experience.

  4. I have heard we are keen to get torriera back, I’ve always liked how he played and was shocked that he was allowed to leave, I do think a midfield with him and partey would be very complementary as I think he’s better than elneney and xhaka

  5. Gabriel was super for us since he just arrived with player of the month x3 already and has has some rash moments but he is literally in a mew country, struggling team but has performed well bar a silly red card.

    It’s not about the player but the team as a whole and we are winning and playing well so he doesnt just walk into the team straight away until one of either Holding or Mari have a dip or need a rest. Nice to have knowing we have them plus Dino & Saliba Once Luiz, Papa, Kola & Mustafi all leave.

  6. Arteta would likely trust Mari more than Magalhaes due to Mari’s experience and it’s better to keep the winning team

  7. Gabriel will be back in the team, he is better than Mari. Mari has done well but he hasn’t been put under much pressure and lack pace.

  8. While I admit that Pablo Mari is good, I also want us to note that he has not faced the kind of opposition Gabriel face in his short career in Arsenal, the only quality opposition Mari faced was Chelsea and in that match, he caused us a penalty which Leno saved, he has not faced the kind of fast attackers in the likes of Salah, Mane, De brune, Kane, Son, Auguero, etc that Gabriel faced. Let’s put this into consideration when we are analysing their individual performances please

    1. Agree, i think the author is very reactionary in his thinking like the Auba article. Mari at the moment is back up and there is no change yet in his position in the squad.

  9. Saliba is gone.
    Just because old manager wanted you (& didn’t get to play you) doesn’t mean new manager does.
    Another one brought in on sanllehi’s watch that he’s no longer accountable for cause he jumped ship first.

    1. I personally see this loan move as
      a win win for both parties. Saliba
      will have endless opportunities @
      Nice to prove to himself and MA
      that he possesses the talent and
      maturity to be a future star @ the
      Emirates. Perhaps this decision
      should of been made in the summer
      but playing regular football atm is
      a necessity for the young Frenchman
      and that obviously isn’t going to
      happen @ AFC.

      Good luck to the young lad, hope he
      once again shines brightly in Ligue

      1. While his lesser rated CB partner from St Ettienne is currently playing for Leicester City under Brendon Rogers.

  10. Heard you out!
    You’ve made some good points, but I think that Gabriel will still start ahead of Mari due to his better range of passing, recovery speed and smaller turning circle.
    Good to have two lefties of such quality and it’s a shame that they won’t be played together unless we have defensive emergencies.

  11. you are good in the anlalysis you made. I suggest if we alterantively use Gabriel on left bcak as we do not have 2 in that position.

    imagine how the defence will be having Mari, holding and Gabriel ……

  12. Gabriel will have opportunities to play alongside Luiz which solves the language issue while he improves his English. He should rotate with Mari, there are plenty of games, plus injuries and suspensions so he has time to improve any dodgy areas. Partey back protecting the centre will also help him in a back four. It should be horses for courses, not winners and losers.

    1. Language is always blown out of proportion on this website..English..Portuguese ..French. Spanish.. The transition is really not that difficult especially when you are in a country whose dominant language is the one you are learning. Trust me on that one…been through it twice

  13. He faced Liverpool while he was at flamengo (Club world cup) and they kept clean shit but also got beaten in penalties under could check it Mari Vs Salah ….He dealt with Salah on the the left wing to him and right to Salah😂

  14. I like both Mari and Gabriel they have different abilities that make them great players. The label of calmness in mari’s way of play is amazing. Gabriel stamina, aggressiveness, pace and general defending like the way he track down strikers is some else i love it. So all in all we have great players who can be really helpful to us. Our defense has improved a lot and the problem is who to partner partey in mid. Up front competition for position is amazing as well.if we can solve this minor problem of ego among players and coach Then we will be great team nxt season

  15. Both players have gud individual qualities. Gabby is fierce, passes well, a gud header of d ball & younger. Mari is composed, calm, solid & my choice any day. Mari is more reliable, Gabby assures a goal rate than Mari.As a defender in my playing days, I will go 4 composure & reliability which is Mari.

  16. I think it a shame that our two most reliable CB ‘s are both left footed andunlikely under MA to be joint first choice as a pair. Of the two he better one is Gabriel, proven against quality sides, which as yet MARI is not, Chelsea aside and in which he made a mistake. I think, once fully fit, Gabriel walks back into the team for sure.

  17. This one is going to be one of the best headaches for Arteta and a good one to have.

    Holding is playing better partnered with Mari than when paired with Gabriel but Gabriel has been a better defender than holding this season, maybe Arteta will try Mari + Gabriel pairing but i don’t think so. He likes having a left and right footed pairing. For now I will play Mari and Holding and give Gabriel the Europa and Cups games as he would need time to recover from Covid.

  18. Good Question Pablo or Gabriel or Holding at half back for Afc ?
    No mention of the deadwood Mustafi or Luis and thats how it should be good players fighting other good players for places and a good player coming in for an injured or suspended player.
    The squad is slowly getting better and i can see a lot of deadwood going at the end of the season,thank god !

  19. Mari Pablo is too slow even slow then Holding, Holding Mari combination will not be sustainable. Holding is already not the faster and Mari slower than him, a big no. Our current best CB combination is Holding and Gabriel.

  20. Typical Arsenal fans, once a player is down with some unfortunate circumstance and another comes in a does a decent job, they suddenly forget how good the former player was and what he did. Gabriel came in and won 3 consecutive man of the match under very difficult circumstances, our defense was sh**t, before him it was Leno vs Martinez. Its crazy to think that the arrival of Mari is the reason we have won 3 consecutive matches and kept clean sheets. to me, the arrival of Martinelli and ESR changed the curve for us. Mari almost cost us the game against Chelsea by given away that penalty. Since these youngsters started playing and pressing from the fron, we have less to do in defense.

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