Martin Keown has given his verdict on Gabriel Magalhaes’ Arsenal debut after the defender began his Gunners career with a goal.
With David Luiz out injured, Mikel Arteta handed summer signing Gabriel a start in Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Fulham.
And the Brazilian centre-half rewarded his manager’s faith by heading home the Gunners’ second goal, with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also scoring in the 3-0 victory.
Gabriel was given a glowing review of his debut performance by BT Sport pundit Keown – and where Arsenal’s defence is concerned, praise doesn’t come much higher than from the Invincibles legend.
Asked during the commentary to name his man of the match, Keown said: “I’m going to go for a player in an area where Arsenal needed serious attention in. It’s Gabriel.
“He’s got a clean sheet and scored on his debut.
“He has come in and he’s been dominant. He wasn’t asked too many questions but he’s my man of the match.”
Keown, a commanding presence at the back who helped Arsenal to three Premier league titles and four FA Cup triumphs, is glad Arteta has addressed the Gunners’ defensive deficiencies by bringing in the Brazilian.
And he hailed the strength showed by Gabriel as he doubled his side’s lead at Craven Cottage.
“I’m really happy with a player of that quality going into the Arsenal defence,” said Keown.
“How strong is he? He gets up and rises above Hector. He just nods it down. He wanted it more than anyone else. It might have touched his shoulder rather than his head. It doesn’t matter. They all count.”
While Gabriel started alongside Rob Holding at the heart of Arsenal’s defence, there was no place for fellow centre-half William Saliba, who joined from Saint-Etienne last summer before returning to the Ligue 1 club on loan.
Explaining why the Frenchman was left out entirely, Arteta said: “I think it’s going to take him [Saliba] some time to adapt to our way of playing but as well to get adapted to the language, the rhythm, the physicality of the country.
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“As well we have to bear in mind that he didn’t play much football last season with all the injuries he had.
“So, I think it will be a process that we have to be patient, picking the right games with the right environment and trying to grow because he [Saliba] has a really good potential.”