Beast of a Defender: Gabriel Offers Arteta Mouth-Watering 3-4-3 Formation Options

Arteta July

Arteta got his Beast of a Defender!

Gabriel Magalhaes has finally signed for the Arsenal and according to he is all that we want in a left-sided and left-footed defender:

Gabriel is a tactically-flexible defender. He can perform as the proactive or reactive centre back, performing in any system that he is instructed to a high level.

He has a real knack for out-muscling opposition forwards off the ball, using his 190cm frame to shrug off physical strikers with ease. He is also blessed with natural speed, making him a tricky opponent for any striker.

The 22-year-old won more than 67 per cent of his ground duels last season and 70 per cent of his aerial duels, illustrating just how impressive his defensive skills are.

His intelligence cannot be underestimated either. His reading of the game is an undeniable strength, consistently positioning himself to block cutbacks or crosses, something Arsenal’s defence is crying out for. He is no stranger to putting his body on the line either, blocking 18 shots in Ligue 1 last season, a stat bettered by just five players.

And that is just about his defending. For more on him click on the link:


A strong left-sided centre back was a big priority for us. Of course we have Luiz but the former Chav just seems to be at his best when he is played centrally in a three at the back. We also have TIerney but again he is of course best suited to be the left back, or even better, the left wing back. We also have Mari but he is still injured, and if we are going to play with three at the back as our main formation this season, which I expect, then we need at least two players who can play there. And a bit of competition is not a bad thing either.

From the little I have seen of Mari, he may well be suited to be cover for both Gabriel and Luiz, and that is exactly what Arteta needs with another grueling season about to kick-off. The biggest gap we had is now covered and anything on top of this- other than Auba committing to the club – is simply a bonus for me.

Gabriel’s inclusion could even allow Arteta to rest Xhaka regularly and move Luiz into his position in midfield. Options, options, options!! 

I guess we will see something like this at the start of the season (I am making the assumption that Bellerin will leave now and either Soares, AMN or Willian will play as wing back):

Arsenal Luiz central

Or something more radical, when Xhaka needs a break:

Luiz in midfleld

Time will tell but for our game v Liverpool in exactly four weeks time, I would like to see us line-up as follows..:

Pepe or Laca CF

This would give us solid AND adventurous left and right wings, with a no-nonsense midfield to protect the back four and feed the wings. Saka and Willian can provide the creativity, whilst Auba and Pepe can scare the living daylight out of Pool’s defence!

But those are just my musings… What do you think?

By TotalArsenal.

40 thoughts on “Beast of a Defender: Gabriel Offers Arteta Mouth-Watering 3-4-3 Formation Options

  • PB wrote at the end of previous post:

    “Furthermore I think our best XI with 4 attackers looks like this:

    Interesting fact I: If we would like to incorporate Ceballos or Partey we either have give up the back 3 or leave out one from the attacking diamond.
    Interesting fact II: As you can see, there is no Saka in the line-up. He is a great prospect and was selected as the 3rd best player of the season by Adrian Clarke, but who would you swap him with? (If Saka plays LWB and Tierney LCB, then we bought Gabriel for the bench…)

    Our secondary or cup-game line-up (in the same formation):

    As we discussed and “agreed” above this doesn’t mean, that a club needs only 22 players. Especially if the missed ones are versatile and can be called into action in several positions. But let’s list who else is there with the club (assuming Sokratis and M’khi are gone, Holding – who could be Luiz’s successor – will be sent on loan to Newcastle, and Iliev will be sold or released.).

    We have:
    – Macey (gigantic third choice keeper, should stay)
    – Kolasinac (there is a good chance that he will be sold – for cheap – to Schalke or Rome)
    – AMN (no matter how versatile and loyal he is, in this enforced formation there are only 2 CM positions altogether, so he should play 2nd/3rd fiddle to the CM and RWB roles if stays)
    – Torreira (he is rumored to be dissatisfied, and would prefer to go back to Italy. I really like him, and wouldn’t spend an extra 20 million to replace him with his close peer. Maybe we don’t need to replace him at all, however I think he is a pretty good footballer playing in the right circumstances)
    – Elneny (he was playing well and mature, but unless we play with 2 CMs [which challenges either the back 3 or the front 4 concept] he has no future here; he could be sold back to Turkey)
    – Guendouzi (according to Arteta everybody stats the season with a clean slate, hence he can be the #3 CM rotating the in the 2 teams, and if Ceballos doesn’t come back, he should be the sole CM in our secondary team)
    – Willock (poor Joe is the 4th CM excess to our best 2, and even if we play with 2 [D]CMs I can’t see him a regular in the starting line-ups: Xhaka should team up with Ceballos, and the cup-midfield duo should be Guendouzi and Torreira, maybe even Elneny if stays. Yet, Willock’s energy could make him a valuable late supersub, unless we send him on loan for proper first team experience)
    – Özil (I’m not sure if we will see Mesut in Arsenal dress again, but if so, then he should be starting as the AM in the cup-squad and should be replaced regularly by ESR around the 55th minute)

    As you can see, we are 8 players over the 22 (already assuming 3 outgoing and 1 incoming not-yet-finalized deals ), but 6 of them are midfielders. I’m not sure we need further MF reinforcements in this formation on top of Ceballos. If we play with 2 CMs then we get either 2 “unused” CBs or 2 neglected attacking players. With Sokratis and Holding out of the picture, who else do we want to be the back-up of the contingency? Mari, whom Arsenal just bought? Or Mustafi, who was our most reliable CB since Arteta took over? The same dilemma applies with the attackers: unless Laca is sold to Athletico Madrid we should leave out one of Auba (captain and player of the season), Laca (hard working ST, player of last season), Pepe (our record signing, and #1 chance creator behind Ozil) and Willian (our talisman/prestige signing of this transfer window). All of them earning a lot for sitting on the bench. Similarly in our B team we should also seriously cut the playing minutes of Nketiah, Nelson, Martinelli or the AM (among ESR, Ozil and Willock).

    And yes, I know that we have 4 long term absentees as Chambers, Mari, Martinelli and Mustafi are not available. But the Europa League group stage games start in late October, and by that time both Mari and Mustafi will be back in full training. So the worse thing that could happen is that we should cover 3-5 EL games with 5 CBs (Luiz can marshal those games, AMN can play RCB, or he plays RWB while Bellerin moves to RCB, Saliba can play RCB in PL and EL games for a month, or we can move back to a back 4), so I don’t see the injuries posing any risk. The same applies to Martinelli: as long as he is not available Saka can play LW in the cup games and AMN plays LWB, or even Smith-Rowe, who often played LM in the U23 setup.

    My point is that when the large squad and rich tactical and rotation options preference prevail, then there will be casualties who don’t get access to enough playing minutes to fuel their development and make them happy. And I’m not talking (only) about Kolasinac, Elneny or Sokratis, but our beloved academy products and future prospects like Saka, AMN, Willock, Nelson or Smith-Rowe.

    Sorry for the long read, but this is the practical aspect of what I have been discussing on a theoretical level in the post.”

  • I mean Soares better than AMN really? Don’t you get scared of Leno’s lack of control of his area? We’ll be slaughtered against Pool as always with their crosses and corners with Lenoi in goial.

  • I just missed the cutoff , heres my comment from the last post……

    HH, that Ornstein Bellerin rumour is one I’m inclined to believe, because it makes a lot of sense all around. I’m hoping we cash in, which we so rarely do.

    Guys that it won’t gut me to sell, though I really like them:

    Firstly, Bellerin, I consider a very reliable defender, and good all around footballer. Never became a threat going forward as much as we had hoped. Disappointing as a crosser, and didn’t have as much attacking impact even though he got plenty of minutes. If it’s the Bellerin fee + keeping AMN I’d be very pleased. AMN as another possible midfielder helps where we are short also. If he were given the challenge to possibly become first choice fb or wingback, I think it might really bring even more out of him.

    Lacazette, I think is a very good striker who deserves to be first choice somewhere. If he went to Atletico Madrid, I would enjoy cheering for him in Spain and champions league. I haven’t seen enough of Martinelli to comment on his viability as a future replacement, but Nketiah is a guy we must work in as second choice. I would be afraid to see him leave because he’s sitting behind Laca and Auba for too long. He will be a monster striker for some club, and it should be us. If I have it correct, he was a Chelsea product, and somehow they let him slip away. I never tire of reminding Chelsea fans about Salah and deBruyne. I want the same with Eddie.

  • J, Agreed re Bellerin, and it would be a good thing for both parties. Super guy Bellerin but we need more from that position.

    I hope we can keep Laca too. Just imagine a three months injury to Auba… and Laca gone.

  • Don’t forget m.ozil in you see another player like ozil my friend arteta must use ozil more games missing and we don’t like that artete plz am arsenal fan remember ozil said you respect his contract

  • I wish them to perform as expected and also wish them free injury through out the season may God be with the team in other to match the purpose of the game for arsenal to be in there pole position

  • Morning all, referring back to J and TA, it might be the optimum time for both Arsenal and Bellerin for us to go our different ways, as I’m sure that Bellerin spent a lot of time during his rehab evaluating his career, how long he may have left and if he’s got as much from it as he might have done – and does he fit the ideal that Arsenal are looking for under Arteta?

    When we compare the reported fee Leicester got for Chilwell and then compare it with the fee PSG are thought to have offered for Hector it seems that we’re being low balled again but anything between £35m and £40m seems a fair price in the financial landscape we’re currently inhabiting.

    It would definitely mean that Maitland Niles would stay and give the club some ammunition to reinvest in different depts of the squad.

  • You summarised it well, Kevinski. I do like Hector a lot as a person and there is still that potential in him to become a great full back, but maybe he just needs another team and challenge, and Gay Paris with its even stronger fashion culture may just be the thing for him. But I agree we need to get the right sum of money for him, as much as that is possible in these strange times. 🙂

  • Talent-wise I think Bellerin is superior to both AMN and Soares. And he is a Hale End academy graduate (in fact he is with us since 2011, while Ainsley joined in 2014, but he is also 2 years younger than Hector). Bellerin – while not injury-prone – when he was out, he was out for really long. Nevertheless he played well as a RWB against Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool recently, so it seems he is our best man in his position.
    Of course there are other aspects, like motivation and market value. It is difficult to keep him here if he wants to go. And maybe it makes more sense to sell Bellerin for 40M than to sell AMN for 25M. However if the decision was up to me I would keep Hector (and sell Ainsley), for the sole sake of having a stronger first team. Bellerin was on the trajectory of becoming the best RB/RWB in the Premier League at the age of 20-21, and while he deviated from that path due to his injuries (and possible other reasons) if someone can take him back there is Arteta. Which – I think – is already started – as Hector was as important in the winning goal in the cup final as Aubameyang himself.

    Howard, probably Soares is indeed better than Maitland-Niles as RWB. It is an unfair comparison, but Cedric is a European Champion with 33 senior cups, while Ainsley is “only” a U-20 WC-winner with no senior caps so far… It can change in the future, but there is no conspiracy behind the Portuguese being ahead of AMN in the pecking order. Ainsley had a really good run at LWB in recent games, but I expect that with the arrival of Willian there will be less room for Saka in the attacking trio/quartett, so he will squeeze Maitland-Niles out from the first team, maybe even from the second.

  • TA, a few weeks ago you tried to assure me that Willian will not come to compete with our right wingers (Pepe and Nelson), but Arteta promised him his favorite position in attacking midfield. Now you want to sell me that he will play wingback? 🙂
    Even if I wanted to buy it (the possibility indeed fancies me) I think the bookies won’t pay good odds for this scenario.

  • PB, AMN seemed to have convinced Arteta and many of the fans that he is the bees’ knees now. He has a great engine for a wingback and is that bit stronger than Hector in the 1-2-1’s. The final ball into the opposition’s box is already on a par with Hector, so I reckon he is a very strong option at RWB. Soares has the experience and AMN the drive to make it to nr1 RWB so we are in a good position if you ask me.

  • PB, the post is mostly about how Gabriel strengthens us in defence and gives us options. But only in the last formation is Willian played in the forward wing position… I think I have always said that Willian could be a very effective wingback on the right. My real hope is that we play Willian in the hole in front of Xhaka and Another in midfield.

  • You are certainly right about the attacking prowess, but let’s not forget that Bayern Munich just won the Champions League with such a front 4 of

    They scored 3 against Lyon, 8 against Barcelona, 4 against Leverkusen (cup final) and 7 against Chelsea (in 2 legs).

    And the also played with 2 CMs, with only Kimmich being DCM while Göretzka is a Ceballos-like classic CM. They played with a back-4, so their formation can be best described as 4-2-4, as I would never consider Müller among the midfielders.
    So that is a possibility worth experimenting, but might not be the perfect fit for Arsenal.

    Nevertheless I would be highly interested to try out a line-up of

    It may very well be our strongest possible team against a weaker on peer opponent.

  • Good points, PB. I like that line-up, especially if Ceballos is instructed to say in line with Xhaka as to keep our shape and compensate for the lack of bodies on the wings.

  • “Napoli want Sokratis for free”

    The Italians are now hoping that the Londoners will agree to terminate his contract, so that the defender would be available on a free transfer. However, Arsenal have so far demanded a fee and even offered the player an extension of his contract, which is currently running until 2021 – although Sokratis has rarely been used in the Premier League recently and already indicated in spring that he does not want to accept the status as a substitute permanently.

    It is so flagrant. I cannot even comment it, as it surely will be moderated for foul language.

  • My problems with Bellerin are with his passing, final ball into the box and defensive concentration. However, he’s likely not fully over his ACL injury yet and still trying to find his form, but the drop off from Bellerin to say AMN is not all that drastic.

    In fact, AMN is a better passer, is more composed under pressure and surprisingly more defensively aware than Bellerin. Bellerin has a slight advantage in pace, is considered a leader in the squad and has better positioning in the final third to receive passes to create scoring opportunities.

    For the money you would receive from a Bellerin sale, you could address a larger hole in the midfield. To me, the decision is simple: the trade-off at RB from Bellerin to AMN is much less of a concern than the trade-off at CM from say Elneny to Partey.

  • Brilliant stuff TA!

    Small statistical additions to your article on Gabriel compared to our defenders last season:
    a) Would have been 1st Interceptions (136)
    b) Would have been 1st Tackles (41)
    c) Would have been 1st in Duels (224)
    d) Would have been 1st in Duels Won (150)
    e) Would have been 1st in Aerials (128)
    f) Would have been 1st in Aerials Won (83)
    g) Would have been 3rd in Recoveries (22)

    Of course all these statistics need to be taken into context. Gabriel played in a less competitive league, a different set-up at Lille, and had a less turbulent manager/tactical situation, but still impressive nonetheless.

    My thoughts:

    1) I think we could play a 3-4-3 against the other top 7 sides, but a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 against the lower half, as Arteta will likely know that opposing teams will set up more of a low block against us. Having the right pieces to allow us to be fluid between both formations will be critical, while maintaining the same philosophy and principles.

    2) Willian at RWB?! That is a tantalizing proposition and one that could certainly happen given his motor and defensive determination, but I do believe Arteta will play Mainsley there if Bellerin is sold (but again it offers us tactical flexibility).

    3) Not sure if Luiz has the pace for a CDM, but an interesting option nonetheless given his passing range.

  • Where did you bring your statistics, HH?

    It seemed intriguing (I hope it is a positive adjective), so I tried to double check it on WhoScored.
    Unfortunately they follow only the big leagues, so Gabriel has statistics from his 6 CL appearances only. Which can be misleading, because they were playing against 3 superior opponents; which is bad news from the chances of qualification point of view (the finished last with 1 point from 6 games), but puts the emphasis on the defensive contribution.

    What I found there that if we compare the defensive stats per 90 minutes – to be fair with him and his new teammates – then he indeed comes out on top with interceptions (Gabriel 2.2 per game, our bests are AMN, Ceballos and Hector with 1.3), and it is a close call with tackles (Gabriel: 2, AMN 2.1, Chambers & Ceballos: 1.9). But his impressive 1 block per 90 minutes is lower than Sokratis’ 1.3 and Luiz’s 1.1, and his 3.7 clearances per game fall short compared to Holding’s mammoth 5.4, Mustafi’s, 4.7, Mari’s 4.5 (in 2 games), and on par with Luiz’s 3.8.

    Still, this is not representative because of the 6 games, so I don’t take his low pass succession rate into consideration. I believe it is his strong suit, and it is a different game playing against PL average teams than Ajax, Chelsea and Valencia in the PL.

  • Hahaha PB, I guess the Italians know that we want to offload Big Sok and that he will not just go anywhere. The Italian teams do have a big pull for players, especially older southern European players, and so they play the game rather well. I hope we hold out and get some money back – many a prem league team could do with the services of the Lover of Wisdom..

  • Great stuff, HH. There were two French teams in the semi-finals of the CL, which could be an indication of the competitiveness of that league. Lyon has not even made it into next year’s CL, so it may be a tougher league than we thought.

    I like the idea of changing formation for the tougher teams (and tough away games against ‘lesser’ teams) but using 4-2-1-3 as our default formation.

    Yes Arteta has options to play in the wing back positions: Saka or Tierney or AMN – Soares or AMN or Willian. Those are good places to tweak and make the opposition think what are they going to do this time. I reckon Willian can be played in every position bar Xhaka’s and defence, and he will add value to every game/role he will play in. Cannot wait to see him strut his stuff. 🙂

  • TA, didn’t mean to discredit Ligue 1, but 1-20, it certainly needs to be considered as “not as deep” compared to the Premier League. I don’t think it’s as far off as some might suggest, but did want to put that disclaimer in on Gabriel’s stats before anyone said “well that’s in Lgue 1!”.

    Lyon not finishing higher was due to the turbulent situation before Garcia joined, along with injuries to key players like Depay. The talent is there for them to improve their standing next season and they clearly focused more on CL than on league standing once it was clear they could not close the gap on top 4.

  • Arteta and the arsenal board should buy partey Thomas and aura….

    On Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 12:13 AM B E R G K A M P e s q u e wrote:

    > TotalArsenal posted: ” Arteta got his Beast of a Defender! Gabriel > Magalhaes has finally signed for the Arsenal and according to > he is all that we want in a left-sided and left-footed defender: Gabriel is > a tactically-flexible defender. He can perform as the proac” >

  • Nothing’s more misleading than the 2020 Ligue 1 table, TA; one-fourth of the season hasn’t been played.
    No doubt Lyon would have finished much, much higher, had it been the case: behind PSG, they are by far the best team, the most coherent, thanks to the many brilliant youngsters promoted from their academy, in particular (even though, just like ajax, they sell them instead of trying to win significant titles with them) – they just paid the price for their chaotic start under Sylvinho.
    Watching Ligue 1 games can often be very depressing, believe me, but how could it be otherwise? Among the very best French players (Pavard, Varane, Pogba, Griezmann, …), many have never played a single minute in Ligue 1! Not to mention that those who have, played just enough to get spotted by English/Spanish/German/Italian clubs (Ollie, The Kos, Kanté, for instance).
    So much so that Ligue 1 is, literally, a second-tier league – its true level can be found out in the results of French clubs in the Europa league, not the Champions’.
    Which does not mean that Gabriel wasn’t worth buying, not at all. As I wrote before, it is very hard indeed to find a flaw in his armour – but he’ll need time, just as pépé did – and at least gabe hasn’t turned up with a £72m price-tag pinned on his chest, which should make things easier for him (even though we should add mari’s £6m or so to that price, since – imo of course – gabe’s signing yesterday made the flamengo lad redundant).
    WE will have to give Gabriel time, if only because of the pace of the PL, and of the sheer talent of many attackers he’ll come across with now, but sooner or later, he’ll make us proud, of that I have no doubt

  • True sentiments LG, I worry that too many Arsenal fans think that Saliba and Gabriel are going to look like Maldini and Krol from the off, instead of understanding that one is only 19 while the other is only 22 and they are total novices in an unforgiving league. Luiz will be like a mother hen to them both, shepherding them through the minefield and they’re bound to make mistakes…
    So don’t kill them if they do, defenders are like a fine wine they get better with age.

  • Sokratis has been at Arsenal for only 2 years from a 3 year deal.

    He’s been on quite decent wages and he cost us a substantial fee, what was it? £14.4m or something in that region.

    So what makes Papa, his advisors or for that matter Napoli think that he should get a free?
    If Napoli were prepared to spend a big fee of Gabriel then they have finance and they can pay us a fee, I don’t think that £4.5m is unreasonable. We should pay nothing to his agent or him, let Napoli pick up the tab.

  • I thought the way that Arsenal hardballed Mkhitarayan was just right, I’ve read that we saved £8.5m in salary, we saved on a £2.5m bonus and the player and agent had to repay us £1m in fees to cancel his contract. We saved a tidy amount if those figures are accurate and showed that we’re not going to be a doormat anymore.

  • Le Gall, I disagree that Gabriel’s signing has made Mari’s signing redundant. We are one of the only clubs with two left footed CBs, which will afford Arteta many rotation and tactical options in games, as well as cover for injury.

    Mari can also play in the middle of a back three with Gabriel and Saliba flanking him, which would be as equally scary as those two with Luiz due to their combined passing ranges.

  • Great debate everyone.
    I don’t think injury has anything to do with my estimation of Hector. He was rather durable for many seasons, racked up loads of minutes, but early on, he stopped improving his game. Stayed a strong defender, and average going forward. I think there’s room for AMN to grow into a superior player……..
    I guarantee, if he gets thousands of minutes like Hector did, he will at minimum, put in much better crosses. It just feels like time for Bellerin, even though i respect his dependability. In a way, reminds me of the Clichy trajectory. Solid servants to the club, but never going to set the world alight. I bet Hector will actually improve somewhere else though, he seems to need some new motivation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s