Forget Odegaard: Arsenal's "absolute colossus" who won 7 duels was Arteta's real hero - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast Gabriel battling for the ball

Arsenal made it back-to-back wins in the Premier League with a hard-fought victory at Burnley, thanks to a superb free-kick from Martin Odegaard.

Mikel Arteta’s side weren’t at their vintage best, but made the decisive breakthrough when, after Bukayo Saka was tripped following an impressive run, Odegaard stepped up to bend the ball over the Burnley wall and hand the Gunners the lead.

But while the Norwegian will grab the headlines, it was Gabriel’s performance at the heart of defence that was the real shining light for Arteta.

The former Lille star had a real battle on his hands all afternoon coming up against Burnley’s twin threat up front of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, but more than matched up to them.

As per Sofascore, the big Brazilian won an impressive seven duels (the second-most of any Arsenal player, only behind Ben White), and made three tackles and eight clearances (both of which were the highest of any of his teammates).

He was a rock at the back and in one eye-catching moment in the first-half, threw himself in front of Barnes to deny the striker a volley on goal.

And, writing in his post-match player ratings for The Evening Standard, Simon Collings gave him an eight, saying: “A big game from the Brazilian, who seemed to relish the battle of playing Burnley. Made one huge tackle in the first-half to deny Ashley Barnes.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Football.London’s Kaya Kaynak, who also gave him a eight, raving: “A dominant display from the Brazilian who dealt well with the physical threat posed by Burnley’s two strikers. Recognised when to engage and when to drop off as he looks to have grown into more of a leader over the summer break.”

Hailed as an “absolute colossus” by Goal’s Charles Watts, Gabriel proved exactly why he should be one of the first names on the team sheet when fit, and was Arteta’s real hero in a tough win at Turf Moor.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are eyeing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s successor in this star…

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