Arsenal find their own Giorgio Chiellini in Gabriel after Lens thrashing

In pictures: Arsenal v Lens

Arsenal centre-back Gabriel has been compared to Juventus and Italy icon Giorgio Chiellini following the Gunners’ 6-0 thrashing of Lens in the Champions League on Wednesday. The north London side have kept three clean sheets in their last four games, with Josh Brownhill’s effort in the 3-1 win over Burnley earlier this month the only goal conceded in that period.

Mikel Arteta’s attack has been accused of lacking the same fluidity and potency as last season, despite putting six past Lens, but their defence has remained solid. They have conceded the fewest amount of goals in the Premier League this season and have been breached just three times in five European games.

That is partly down to the foundation of the backline in Gabriel and William Saliba. The latter has taken the majority of plaudits since breaking into the team last season, but the Brazilian has been a steady partner and was singled out after reacting to his own defending against Lens.

Minutes after Jorginho’s penalty gave Arsenal their sixth goal of the evening, Lens striker Elye Wahi had attempted to give the visitors a consolation at the Emirates. He jostled into the box and fired an effort towards David Raya’s goal but Gabriel blocked his strike which went out for a corner.

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But even though the Gunners were cruising towards a thumping of Lens, Gabriel celebrated his block as if he had scored a goal. He let out a loud battle cry and clearly was determined not to lose his clean sheet, prompting TNT Sports commentator Adam Summerton to liken him to former Juventus defender Chiellini.

“Do you know who that reminds me of? Giorgio Chiellini,” he said. “I’ve seen him celebrate a few times like that and he wasn’t a bad defender. At times you would see (Leonardo) Bonucci, Chiellini and (Gianluigi) Buffon all embracing and hugging each other.”

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Arsenal boss Arteta was also impressed with Gabriel’s attitude following his block. “When your team has that body language, living every game, every action as we do, good things are going to come,” he said. “Like the crowd, they wanted more, they celebrate every single ball with us and when there is that connection, it’s really powerful.”

Arsenal and Gabriel will be hoping there are more defensive moments to celebrate in the coming games, with Wolves and Luton to come in the next few days.

The 25-year-old started the season out of favour with Arteta but he is almost certainly winning the boss over and his commitment to the defensive side of the game in the ilk of Chiellini will stand him in good stead for the future.

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