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Arteta praises Gabriel´s ´character´ after fighting off a baseball bat-wielding robber

SoccerNews in English Premier League 1 Dec 2021

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta praised Gunners defender Gabriel Magalhaes for his “character” after he fought off a baseball bat-wielding robber at his home.

The 23-year-old centre-back was followed home by two robbers who attempted to steal his car, watch and phone back in August. He tussled with one assailant, who amid the scuffle dropped his hat, from which DNA evidence led to a conviction last month.

Gabriel missed the opening three Premier League games of the season with a knee injury but has played the full 90 minutes in each of the subsequent 10, with Arsenal winning seven and drawing two of those fixtures.

Arteta, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s game against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday, commended Gabriel for his response.

“Obviously it is not a nice thing to go through when you have family involved and they are trying to access your house,” Arteta said. “Gabi showed a lot of character, you see the reaction he had straight away. Credit to the boy. After that he was fine.

“Obviously, he was shocked, there were a few things he wanted to change in his life to try to prevent those things happening and the club gave him all the support that was needed to try to forget about the situation, learn from it and move on.”

Arteta will be hoping left-sided central defender Gabriel can help Arsenal repeat their Old Trafford heroics from last season – when the Gunners won 1-0 – as part of a solid defensive unit that has conceded just eight goals in the 10 league games he has played in this season.

However, the identity of the left-back playing next to him is less certain, with Nuno Tavares seemingly having displaced first-choice Kieran Tierney in the role for the time being as the pair compete for minutes – a problem Arteta is glad to have.

“Last year when we had an issue with Kieran, when he was out for a while, we had to invent and play players in that position, and that’s something that obviously we want to eradicate as much as possible,” Arteta explained. 

“And that’s why we made the decision that we made in the summer, to try to fill the gaps that we have and make the team stronger. It’s only about that.

“Kieran hasn’t played in a lot of games because he was still injured and in others, because once Nuno played and played well, I think he deserved the chance to continue playing.

“[Starting Tierney on the bench against Newcastle United] was a tricky one and after what happened at Anfield and some individual errors that we had, we have to be very careful with the messages that we send to our players.

“I encourage my players to play with courage, to take risks, to make decisions and to be on the front foot and when they do that, if for any reason things don’t go our way or somebody makes a mistake, that’s when you have to show trust in the player because you want to build confidence and resilience.

“It’s not only for the player that’s playing, it’s also for the player that’s not playing to understand that part of that decision is to support and in their case, if it happens to them, I will do exactly the same thing.

“It’s something that we have to build and with young players even more, because if not, they can get very confused. I have full confidence in him.”

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