Rio Ferdinand gives Mikel Arteta food for thought on axing Gabriel

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Rio Ferdinand has given Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta food for thought over the performances of centre-back Gabriel. The Brazilian defender has played well in spells over the course of the campaign as he forms a positive relationship with William Saliba – but this has often been undermined by costly individual errors which have put his team under unnecessary pressure. 

Arsenal have enjoyed a hugely positive start to the Premier League season under Arteta, sitting four points clear at the top of the table after 10 matches. A strong defensive record has been central to the Gunners’ early surge, conceding just 10 goals with only Newcastle offering up less.

Gabriel’s partnership with Saliba has been crucial to this success however the Brazilian has also been guilty of personal errors which have often made his team’s task more difficult. A poor backpass in the 2-1 win over Fulham gifted Aleksandr Mitrovic the opening goal of the game while he also gave away an unnecessary penalty in the North London Derby win over Tottenham. 

Mistakes have also been prevalent in recent weeks with the centre-half failing to deal with a long ball to allow Luis Diaz to create Liverpool’s equaliser in the Gunners’ 3-2 win. Then he was lucky to be bailed out by VAR in the final minutes of the weekend’s victory over Leeds as he appeared to kick out at Patrick Bamford in the box. He was originally sent off and a penalty was given before it was overturned after referee Chris Kavanagh at the pitchside monitor. 

Now Ferdinand has sent Arteta about the defender, suggesting he is too emotional and too often puts his team at unnecessary risk. 

“As centre-backs, you don’t really want to be talked about a lot during a game,” the Manchester United legend told Vibe. “If you can just ghost through most games and put an eight out of 10 performance in you’re flying.

“But every week he’s in the headlines or he’s in underneath with a little bullet point next to his name and a bad incident.

“I don’t know if you replace him. Sometimes someone with that energy, as much as you maybe call it a liability, he’s performing. Time will tell if he’s someone you want to stick by.

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“I don’t like emotional defenders, that’s what I always say about centre-backs, I don’t like emotional ones who get caught up in the moment in games.

“They leave you a man down at times and can be a bit impulsive and jump out and make mad decisions in big moments. If he can grow out of that you’ve got a good player there.”

Gabriel will be available for Arsenal’s next Premier League match against Southampton next weekend as the Gunners’ look to maintain their lead at the top of the table. 

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