Mikel Arteta praises unsung Arsenal hero vs Fulham and reacts to Gabriel's debut

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was full of praise for debutant Gabriel after he made his first competitive appearance since March, while he labelled Mohamed Elneny’s performance as ‘phenomenal’.

The Gunners made the ideal start to the new Premier League season, winning 3-0 against Fulham at Craven Cottage thanks to goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

With David Luiz injured, Gabriel was drafted in for his first start since the French league was shut down due to the coronavirus crisis, scoring, keeping a clean sheet and playing an astonishing 113 passes.

Fellow summer recruit Willian, meanwhile, was involved in all three goals and Arteta was delighted with the pair, while he also highlighted Elneny’s role in the victory.

Asked about the strong performances of his debutants, Arteta told BT Sport: ‘Yeah, they’ve been training really well to be fair.

‘For Gabriel it was a big challenge to come to this small ground in the Premier League, I think he didn’t play for six months with everything that happened in France.’

In his post-match press conference, he added: ‘I wanted to give him some time. Credit to him, he performed really well.’

On Elneny’s performance, Arteta said: ‘Mo Elneny I think was brilliant again today. All the boys they tried really hard. The ones that came on they have to push these guys again, and we’ll keep going.

‘Mo has been excellent since day one in training. He’s a player that I know really well because we played together as well.

‘I know what he can give us, and I know as well what he needs to do to improve. And I think today he was phenomenal.’

Elneny has been brought in from the cold under Arteta, having been frozen out by former boss Unai Emery, and the Egyptian midfielder also gave an excellent showing in the Community Shield win over Liverpool.

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