Gabriel impresses Rio Ferdinand and Martin Keown in goalscoring Arsenal debut

Gabriel made the perfect start to his Arsenal career, scoring and keeping a clean sheet in a 3-0 win against Fulham, and has already impressed two legendary Premier League centre-backs.

With David Luiz injured, the summer signing from Lille was picked to start away at Craven Cottage on Saturday and gave an excellent display at both ends of the pitch.

As well as keeping a clean sheet and restricting Fulham to barely any chances of note, the defender made 113 passes – the most of any player – and capped his display with a fine headed goal from a corner.

The 22-year-old appears to have taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand feels he will provide much more security at the back for Arsenal, though surprisingly was less impressed by his work on the ball.

Asked how the Brazilian had fared after a shaky start, Ferdinand said on BT Sport: ‘Yeah with the ball he looks a little bit… not nervous, but he’s just not accustomed so much to playing in a three as well maybe and new teammates.

‘But I thought he grew into it and defensively he’s looked very, very, very sound and very solid. So hopefully more of that to come from Arsenal’s perspective.’ He later added:

‘They’ve got two new centre-backs who have come in, Gabriel who played today and looked very, very good, very solid – has all the attributes you want to see in a centre-back.

‘And they’ve got William Saliba to come in, another young centre-half. And that’s what they’ve been searching for, players who can bring that consistency. Gabriel for me today he got Man of the Match, and deservedly so.’

Former Arsenal centre-back Martin Keown was even more glowing in his assessment and felt Gabriel gave a very strong showing on his debut, also naming him as the Man of the Match.

‘He’s looked a dominant figure from the off,’ said the former Invincible on commentary duty during the game. ‘Some talk about maybe some nervousness in his passing, I wouldn’t have thought he’d played in the middle of a three on too many occasions. But once he got into the game we saw the quality that he has.’

Picking Gabriel as his Man of the Match, he added: ‘I’m going to go for an area that is an area Arsenal have needed serious attention in and it’s Gabriel. For me you get a clean sheet, you score on your debut, you come in and are as dominant as he was.

‘I know he wasn’t asked too many questions, but he’s my Man of the Match. Really happy to see a player of that quality going into the Arsenal defence.’

Gabriel lined up in the centre of Arsenal’s back three against Fulham with Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney either side of him, while fellow debutant Willian also performed well and was involved in all three goals.