Mikel Arteta says a number of factors have contributed to the impressive form of defender Gabriel.
Despite picking up a knee injury that ruled him out of the Olympics and the start of the new Premier League campaign, the centre-back, when he finally regained full fitness, hit the ground running and has since established a very promising partnership with new signing Ben White.
The Brazilian hasn’t tasted defeat this season – a personal unbeaten streak that actually dates back to April across 12 matches in total.
“I think he’s been crucial,” said Arteta when asked about the player’s newfound importance.
“He came back from a knee injury that meant he missed all of pre-season but he came in a different way. He showed a new maturity, a different level of application. Again, his lifestyle has improved a lot. His language has improved a lot.
“He has all the qualities to be a superb central defender. I’m really pleased with what he’s doing.”
At 23, Gabriel, like his defensive cohorts Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White and Kieran Tierney, still has age on his side. Assuming Arsenal can keep the players together and they continue to show an upturn in form, it bodes well for the future.
Asked about the way the five players have gelled since they came together in September, Arteta said: “It’s not easy but I think they all have the qualities to complement each other.
The cohesion between them is natural and they connect and they have all the right qualities for what we’re demanding them to do.
“And then they have to show the consistency. We’re just in October, there are still eight months to play. In the long run, we’ll see where we get to, but so far, I’m really pleased with them.
He added: “The potential is there [for them to play together for the next five years] because of the qualities that they have individually and how they can complement each other with those qualities. Obviously, the age group that we have there if we manage them well and they are willing to sustain that then they have a really bright future.”
Given the vastly different backgrounds of those making up his new-look backline – players from England, Scotland, Japan and Brazil – Arteta is delighted that communication hasn’t posed a problem.
“That’s the beauty of football, you have to connect different cultures, languages, ways of thinking and backgrounds because, for sure, they’ve all been coached in a different way.
“You have to link the pieces. I’m lucky because they are so willing to to learn, to understand and to try their best. And when that happens, it makes things a little bit easier.”