Willian and Gabriel have brought Brazilian magic to Arsenal

Brazil-liant! Willian and Gabriel have brought samba magic to Arsenal after making excellent debuts in impressive opening day win at new-boys Fulham

  • Brazilians Willian and Gabriel were key to Arsenal’s 3-0 win at Fulham
  • Willian, a free transfer from Chelsea, provided all three assists
  • Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has been full of praise for the 32-year-old 
  • Defender Gabriel scored on debut but could be key to ending defensive woes 

It was just like watching Brazil. OK, perhaps that’s getting carried away slightly but something’s afoot at Arsenal — and the Samba influence is inescapable.

Willian provided three assists on his debut as the Gunners recorded an impressive opening-day victory over Fulham, the Brazilian hitting the ground with a sprint following his move from Chelsea.

Similarly, countryman Gabriel marked his first appearance in English football with a goal to cap a composed display.

Willian starred on his Arsenal debut in their 3-0 win at Fulham in the Premier League

The former Chelsea winger set up all of the Gunners’ goals in the impressive victory

When David Luiz and Gabriel Martinelli return from injury, Arsenal’s Brazilian connection will look even more solid. Until then, manager Mikel Arteta will have rely on Willian and Gabriel for his doses of Brazilian brilliance.

If the pair can replicate Saturday’s showing, Arteta will have no qualms with that.

Poise, vision and experience — this display was everything we’ve come to expect from Willian.

If this is the impact agent Kia Joorabchian’s players have on Arsenal, maybe whatever influence he has isn’t so bad after all.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta praised Willian;s display as they shake hands after his substitution

Willian’s sensational debut should come as no surprise — he has been producing performances like this for years at Stamford Bridge.

The truth is that Chelsea manager Frank Lampard wanted Willian to stay, but the club would not match what the Gunners were offering. On the evidence of what happened at Craven Cottage, Chelsea’s loss is Arsenal’s gain.

Domestically, Willian has won the lot: Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup. Yet the hunger does not appear to have waned.

‘Some players (when they have won so much) have a full stomach, but with Willian I had the opposite feeling,’ said Arteta. ‘He wanted more, he wanted to do it with a different club. He has shown against Fulham how much he wants it and how much he is going to drive the other players to achieve that.

The Gunners look to be heading in the right direction under Arteta after a positive summer

‘We need a mix, we have young players who have big talent and a big future. But they need role models and Willian is a really good one to have around the place.

‘He doesn’t talk much in the dressing room, but he always talks on the pitch and that’s a good way to do it.’ Speaking of players with ‘big talent’, £27million signing Gabriel provided tangible proof that Arsenal have finally found a central defender with a chance of reaching the standards set by Tony Adams and Sol Campbell.

It wasn’t only his debut goal. He took to English football effortlessly, thwarting Fulham attacks at every opportunity.

Bigger tests are to come, of course. Arsenal face Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Leicester before the end of next month.

It’s only right we reserve judgment until Gabriel has negotiated those challenges, but the early signs are promising. 

Arsenal’s Gabriel (second left) also had an impressive debut, heading in Arsenal’s second goal

The defender is mobbed by team-mates while celebrating his goal at Craven Cottage

‘We followed him a lot. He has very special qualities to play the way we want to play,’ said Arteta.

‘One of those is his character and his personality on the pitch. For a boy who doesn’t speak the language, to come in and do what he did it’s a big credit.’

It all bodes well for Arteta, who is gradually changing the negative perceptions that have followed the club since the latter part of Arsene Wenger’s reign. He said: ‘We have to find a level of consistency throughout the season — this is just one match. There’s still a lot of things to improve. But I can see they want more and they want to speed up this process.’

Credit to Fulham, they stuck to their passing principles on their big return. The philosophy is clear: hard work, passing and possession. But the gap in quality between Championship and Premier League football was obvious.

Fulham boss Scott Parker said: ‘We can’t let defeats scar us. We need to bring players into this team who can improve us.’




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