Why Mikel Arteta has held back new Arsenal signings Gabriel and William Saliba

William Saliba and Gabriel are yet to start alongside one another for Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes has made an encouraging start to his Arsenal career, but eyebrows were raised when he was missing from the starting XI against Liverpool on Monday night.

The Brazilian centre-half won the man-of-the-match award following an impressive debut against Fulham on the opening weekend of the new season, despite having trained on only several occasions with his new team-mates.

Gabriel impressed again in the narrow 2-1 home victory against West Ham, but the return to full fitness of David Luiz saw the former Chelsea star’s Brazilian compatriot dropped to the bench at Anfield.

William Saliba, meanwhile, is still waiting to make his senior debut following his return from a loan spell at Saint-Etienne. The Gunners beat off strong competition to sign the French centre-half last summer, but were forced to return him to the Ligue 1 club as pat of the deal.

The 19-year-old, who was handed Arsenal’s iconic No.4 squad number, could make his bow in the Carabao Cup against Liverpool tomorrow having been an unused substitute in the same competition last week at Leicester.

David Luiz was restored to the starting line-up as Arsenal were beaten 3-1 at Anfield by Liverpool on Monday (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal fans had hoped to see the pair form a burgeoning partnership from the get-go, but according to the Daily Telegraph, Arteta has been hesitant to pitch the new additions to his squad into battle and would never have selected Gabriel for the match at Craven Cottage had it not been for a central defensive injury crisis.

Arteta’s insistence on his defenders playing out from the back is a style of play new arrivals require time to perfect, while both players are attempting to overcome a significant language barrier.

Still, the Arsenal manager’s decision to leave Gabriel out of the firing line on Monday was heavily criticised by club legend Tony Adams who was baffled by the 22-year-old’s omission as the Gunners lost 3-1 and surrendered their 100% start to the new campaign.

‘I think it was a bad decision not to play Gabriel,’ he told Astro SuperSport after the game. ‘You’ve brought him into the team, he’s had two good games, and you bring Luiz in. I think that was an error. I’m screaming. ‘The problem that the coach has got is the system has been really working, they’ve [lifted] the FA Cup, you kind of go, “Okay, I’ll run with it, it seems to be working, the lads seem to know what they’re doing”.

‘Arsene Wenger came the first year and we were playing three at the back and he didn’t want it. He didn’t want it but we persevered for the rest of the year and then in pre-season the next season we went in to a back four and we got solid again.

‘For me, it’s done Arteta a disservice by winning the FA Cup in the system they’ve got. ‘Because I think they have got to get Holding alongside Gabriel, get Tierney in at left-back, and let’s put a back four in place with a three [in midfield]. Copy Liverpool! You know, the 4-3-3 has been hugely successful for them. They’re champions, it’s a great model, let’s copy it.’

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