Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes lost a tooth during the game at Brighton…the Brazilian is willing to put his body on the line and is a symbol of their new-found defensive strength
- Gabriel Magalhaes put his body on the line at both ends for Arsenal at Brighton
- The Brazilian went searching for a missing tooth on the pitch after the game
- Arsenal are finally looking like a reliable unit in defence under Mikel Arteta
- But their hunt for chemistry in attack continues after a blunt display at Brighton
Once again following a meeting with Brighton, Gabriel Magalhaes emerged from the Arsenal dressing room long after the final whistle and headed back on to the pitch to search one of the penalty areas for a missing tooth.
The same happened, strangely, after Arsenal’s 2-0 home win against Brighton on last season’s final day.
At the Amex, he suffered the costly blow to his face as he challenged Seagulls keeper Robert Sanchez and defender Lewis Dunk for a second-half corner.
Gabriel Magalhaes was in combative mood at both ends of the pitch for Arsenal at Brighton
He lost a tooth for the second time against Brighton after clashing with keeper Robert Sanchez
Gabriel was just as willing to put his body on the line at the other end, too. At one point during Brighton’s late push for a winner, he stood firm to take the full force of a thumping effort from Alexis Mac Allister that could have knocked him over.
It was a block that summed up a determination to keep the ball out of the net that was shared by every member of Arsenal’s defence — goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel and Kieran Tierney.
All of them were at it during this stalemate, making crucial interceptions to secure a third clean sheet in the four league games they have played together. Just a month ago, when Arsenal’s defence looked very different, this is the sort of game they would have lost.
It has been some time since Arsenal have had an entire defensive unit they could rely on. From a summer window during which their transfer approach was questioned, one has emerged that Arteta is ready to put his faith in — and so far, so good.
The Brazilian was seen looking for a remnant of the tooth after full time at the AMEX
‘It generates belief that they can do it, that they complement each other really well,’ Arteta said of his side’s defensive display.
‘It was really positive and one of the things that I take from the game — that we had the resilience in difficult moments to grind out a result away from home.’
Their hunt for the same chemistry up front continues. The attacking unit which was razor-sharp against Tottenham was blunt at Brighton.
If it was a one-off it might have been easier to accept for Arteta but Arsenal have scored just five goals in seven league games.
Gabriel (right) is part of a defence that has kept three clean sheet in four Arsenal matches
The Spaniard said: ‘Our defensive record in the last month has been really good. We need to think about what we can improve.’
Credit needs to go to Brighton, too, for limiting Arsenal’s threat. It took Graham Potter’s side until January last season to reach the 14-point mark they have hit already this time.
Their confidence was clear as they dominated, though the finishing touch they have rediscovered more often than not this campaign eluded them.
At the back, though, there was further evidence of an increased solidity which has underpinned their results.
The Gunners were under pressure against the high-flying Seagulls but got another shut out
White’s £50million departure to Arsenal led to Brighton replacing a man who likes to get involved going forward with one, Shane Duffy, who is content to focus on staying back.
Asked about the defensive improvement, Potter said: ‘There’s a real desire to keep the ball out of the net and defend collectively.
‘It starts with Neal Maupay up front and finishes with Robert. That’s the only way to do it in this league.
‘For a period, we were talking about how bad our record was, so it’s amazing how it turns around.’