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Arsenal: Gabriel responds to World Cup rejection in stunning fashion

Arsenal may not have won anything yet but they will head into the World Cup break and subsequent festive period with a huge psychological boost.

Indeed, the Gunners sit top of the Premier League, where they lead Manchester City by five points.

If Mikel Arteta’s side are to seal an unlikely title triumph, then they may just look back at this weekend as a key turning point.

Ivan Toney’s 108th-minute winner saw Brentford steal all three points at the Etihad earlier in the day, sealing a 2-1 win.

It looked for one minute as though Arsenal were also facing a tough encounter.

Wolves, buoyed by new manager Julen Lopetegui in the stands, were stern opposition despite being rooted to the bottom of the table, but the north Londoners eventually prevailed.

It was a testing night for Arsenal who were hamstrung by a number of players falling ill after their pre-match meal, namely Granit Xhaka.

They missed the Swiss in the middle of the park but his replacement, the out-of-form Fabio Vieira, was the man who assisted the opener.

Martin Odegaard was the scorer, finding the net from point-blank range. The Norwegian would score again from inside the penalty area a little later in the second half, a goal that ensured a 2-0 victory.

It wasn’t their finest performance of the campaign but there was another standout besides Odegaard.

Indeed, Gabriel put a tough week behind him by delivering one of his best displays of the season.

The defender has been left out of Brazil’s squad for the 2022 World Cup but sent a defiant message to national team coach, Tite, that it may have been a mistake to do so.

The Brazilian has been excellent this season, even if a few shaky moments have threatened to derail that, but the bottom line is that Gabriel is becoming more reliable as the weeks pass by.

He is rated incredibly higher by the coaching staff at the Emirates Stadium and this performance summed up why.

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He set the tone for a rock-solid display in the first half when he came to the rescue following a rare mistake by William Saliba. The Frenchman’s loose back pass was gobbled up by Goncalo Guedes but across came Gabriel who made a vital block to halt Wolves’ progress.

Another crucial block came minutes later following a counter attack by the hosts.

Guedes again was the man to get in behind but after Saliba just about managed to get his body in the way, the ball fell the way of Adama Traore, only for that man Gabriel to come across once again and make a tremendous block from the Spaniard’s shot at goal.

That was the story of the day for the 24-year-old who was superb at the back.

According to SofaScore, he won 2/3 of his duels on the ground while winning three interceptions and giving away just one foul.

Furthermore, he was not dribbled past once by an Old Gold player, demonstrating his solidity throughout the 90 minutes.

A force at the back, one source suggested the centre half was “different gravy” as he delivered a “massive” performance in the wake of his World Cup rejection.

Not just content with a good day at the back, Gabriel was ever reliable with the ball at his feet, ending the encounter with a pass success rate of 90% from his 75 touches of the ball.

An all round good day for the former Lille man, he will go into the festive break knowing he did all he could to be on the plane to Qatar.

It’s a shame he’ll be having to watch from home instead.

Article title: Arsenal: Gabriel responds to World Cup rejection in stunning fashion

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