Arsenal got their second win of the Premier League season on Saturday against Burnley thanks to a Martin Odegaard freekick.

The Gunners did manage to have a second consecutive clean sheet as well after conceding nine goals in the first three matches. The majority of the credit goes to Gabriel Magalhaes in defence. Gabriel was signed from Lille last season and was all set to accompany his new centre-back partner Ben White in defence. However, injury kept him sidelined for the first three matches and Arsenal really struggled at the back. Since his return, Arsenal has improved in defence and his contribution against Burnley was immense.

We look at some stats from the match to analyse his performance further.


Gabriel has won 89.47% of his defensive actions ranking in the 79th percentile in the league after playing just two matches. He has been really strong in the air as well winning 50% of his aerial duels against players like Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood who are extremely good in the air.

Gabriel does not like pushing up much in the opposition half (we will see in the heatmap later) and has recovered 0.94 balls in the opposition half but his normal recovery rate of 9.42 per 90 shows much efficiently he can take off balls from others. He has won 4.71 interceptions per 90 as well as winning 50% of his loose ball duels.

He won most of his 50-50 and aerial duels in the defensive half and inside the box against Burnley players who are relatively very solid in the air as well as physically strong. Gabriel is reliable on wining these duels which Arsenal certainly lacked against the likes of Brentford.

The above image shows the interceptions Gabriel had against Burnley. All of them have been inside the penalty box even inside the six-yard box at absolute clutch moments. He has won the ball back while other players were on it without giving away a penalty which proves his decision making and perfect timing which certainly makes him very clinical and reliable for Mikel Arteta.

Playing predominantly on the left side of defence he has never ventured much forward into the pitch, it always provides Arsenal to go back and build from the back as well as stop opposition counters. The red zone is where he has spent the most time on the pitch and he has won most of his duels around that area as well.

He has played most of his passes to Ben White and Thomas Partey in the defensive third at Turf Moor but has looked to open up Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney time and time again on the left wing with over the top long passes with xT as high as 0.016. Gabriel has looked to play through balls to Odegaard through the middle at times which proves how comfortable he is on the ball and has an equally great vision for a threatening pass to start an attack.

Mikel Arteta has been looking for a leader at the back who can organise the defence and be vocal, Gabriel certainly fulfils that criterion. His presence and impact is already visible since he came back on to the pitch and his partnership with Ben White will be an absolutely vital focal point behind Arsenal’s future this season.