Mikel Arteta has revealed that Gabriel Magalhaes is on track to return for Arsenal in Thursday’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.
The Brazilian has been out since picking up a red card in the 1-1 draw at home to Southampton back in December after falling foul of the pandemic.
Speaking ahead of the game, the Spaniard claimed that the former Lille ace will train with the side over the next couple of days before a decision is made.
Arteta said: “It’s better now, we expect him to be training with us and couple of days and we will make an assessment whether we can have him or not on Thursday.” (via football.london)
Who should start for Arsenal in the left-centre back role?
In all seriousness, it’s hard to see where the Brazil youth international fits into the side given how well they’ve been playing in his absence. The Gunners have been nothing short of sensational, and Gabriel’s replacement, Pablo Mari especially. The Spaniard has been a rock at the back for Arteta’s men and not one you’d look at and think needs immediate replacing despite how well the £23.14m ace has done since he moved from Ligue 1 in the summer.
He made his season’s league debut in the win over Chelsea and has blossomed into a Per Mertesacker-esque defender for the club, averaging the joint-second most tackles and the second-most clearances.
However, his greatest attribute is his comfortability on the ball especially in dangerous situations. Having made just three appearances, Mari already averages the second-most passes in the Arsenal squad. His desire to get on the ball and spread play to the midfielders and Kieran Tierney at left-back is precisely the manner his Brazilian counterpart played prior to his fitness issues.
I would love Gabriel to return, however, you simply can’t justify dropping the former Manchester City defender, who has been in stunning form up until now.