After 73 consecutive Premier League starts for Arsenal, Gabriel Magalhaes was benched by Mikel Arteta on Saturday.
Arsenal centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes only came on for the final few minutes to help the Gunners protect their 2-1 lead against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, after Mikel Arteta left him out of the starting XI for tactical reasons.
The shift around in the defence saw Ben White take up a central role, with Thomas Partey outside him at right-back. Meanwhile, William Saliba shifted across into Gabriel’s usual left-sided centre-back role.
Arteta signed Gabriel from Lille for £27 million in 2020. The Brazilian has since established himself as one of the manager’s most trusted lieutenants. In leaving the 25-year-old out against Nottingham Forest, Arteta has sent clear messages to both his own squad and the rest of the Premier League.
Arteta’s warning shots fired
Firstly, with this decision, Arteta is telling his first team regulars that none of their positions are safe. They will all have to be consistently at their best if they want to remain in his immediate plans.
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There is fierce competition for places at the Emirates Stadium this season, and Arteta will want all of his players taking those internals threats seriously.
On top of that, Arteta has already spoken about his mission to make Arsenal less predictable. His surprise exclusion of Gabriel on Saturday will serve as a warning to other Premier League clubs not to make too many assumptions about what they’ll be facing when they prepare for their meetings with Arsenal this season.
As to whether leaving out Gabriel worked tactically on Saturday is another matter. There were positives and drawbacks to Partey’s presence at right-back. After a full season serving on the flank, White looked slightly rusty at times whilst operating as a centre-back again. In any case, the experiment will have taught Arteta plenty, and his message has been heard loud and clear.