Arsenal legend Ian Wright has had his say on Gabriel Magalhaes’ recent omission from the Gunners’ starting XI.

Mikel Arteta left Gabriel Magalhaes out of the Arsenal starting line up again on Saturday, as the north London club welcomed Fulham to the Emirates Stadium. The Brazilian centre-back is yet to start a match in the Premier League this season.

Gabriel was a mainstay for Arsenal last season. Starting every single one of the club’s Premier League matches. Despite having been linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, recent reports have suggested that the club are determined for the player to stay at the Emirates Stadium.

Arteta has insisted that Gabriel’s absence has been due to tactical reasons. Indeed, the Spanish coach has shaken up his defensive set up this season. Ben White has been shifted back inside into a centre-back role, whilst Thomas Partey has been deployed at right-back. However, this new approach hasn’t been entirely convincing, and the Gunners dropped points for the first time in this campaign against Fulham who earned a 2-2 draw.

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Wright asks Arsenal to bring their defensive leader back

Ian Wright has called for Gabriel to come back into the fold, following Fulham’s late equaliser snatching two points away from Arsenal. Speaking to Premier League Productions (26/08/23 at 8:20 pm), the ex-Arsenal striker said, “I think that’s a little bit of a worry…I know the fans are a little bit worried about Gabriel not playing, he gives us solidity in there, and then when they score that goal at the death there, from the corner, it’s something our big defender would be there. There is no Gabriel, as I said, to be that organiser.”

Gabriel’s absence was keenly felt when Joao Palhinha scored from a corner to rob Arsenal of their win. The 25-year-old is a huge asset for Arsenal from set piece situations. He takes responsibility, organises the teammates around him, and is a dominant aerial presence.

The former Lille man will surely get his chance to return to the starting XI sooner rather than later. When Zinchenko is fit enough to play 90 minutes again, Arteta may well opt to go back to a more familiar looking back four, with the Ukrainian in at left-back, White restored on the opposite flank, and Gabriel returned to his station alongside William Saliba in the heart of the rearguard.

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