- Arsenal have the best defensive record in the Premier League so far this term
- Their intimidating rearguard is built on the relationship of Gabriel and Saliba
- IAN LADYMAN: If Spurs go toe-to-toe with City, they’ll have their trousers pulled down – It’s All Kicking Off
Mikel Arteta reckons his decision to drop Gabriel Magalhaes from the starting line-up at the beginning of the season has led to the Brazilian becoming a better player.
The defender has been ever-present in Arsenal’s backline, having began the campaign on the bench amid speculation that he was set for a transfer to the Saudi Pro League.
The result was a shaky beginning to the Premier League season for the title chasers as they drew 2-2 at home draw to Fulham. It was the last straw before the 25-year-old was reinstated for the win against Manchester United in September.
Since then Gabriel has anchored the league’s best defence alongside William Saliba and Arteta believes this is in part down to his decision to relegate the former Lille star to the substitutes bench.
‘In football it’s about tomorrow,’ he said ahead of the Gunners’ clash with Wolves on Saturday.
Mikel Arteta believes his decision to drop Gabriel at the start of the season has done him good
Gabriel has been in fine form since he was reinstated to the starting line-up in September
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Gabriel and WIlliam Saliba have been the bedrock of Arsenal’s impressive defence
‘It’s about form, it’s about how you are playing, it’s about how you are behaving and you have to earn it every single day, because you know somebody else is next to you and wants to take your place and deserves to take your place.
‘Sometimes you just need to sit down on the bench and realise things and then suddenly you become a much better player.’
Arsenal’s stellar defence has helped propel them to the top of the league standings with the fewest goals conceded and an Expected Goals Against figure bettered only by Manchester City.
The arrival of Declan Rice has certainly helped in this regard, as has the partnership between Gabriel and the 22-year-old Saliba, which Arteta feels is ‘strange’ for defenders so young and is strengthen by an ‘intangible’ bond.
‘To see those two centre backs at that age in the Premier League doing what they’re doing that’s very strange.’ He added.
‘But credit to them that’s a partnership. Building a relationship and chemistry there is not a company that can give you that statistic, that’s impossible to measure.
‘There is something there, it’s not tangible but it’s very, very important in certain positions and those two certainly have that.’