Liverpool and Spurs in Arsenal’s wake after dormant Januarys
The paint may still be drying on one of the most underwhelming transfer windows in recent memory, but a few Premier League teams still look to have put one over their nearest rivals in January.
Step forward Arsenal, whose signing of Villareal centre-half Gabriel Paulista for an initial fee of £11m, has bound an extra layer of cement to some pretty-solid looking top-four foundations.
Following their third straight win to nil in the league – a 5-0 thumping of Aston Villa – it could be argued that Arsenal’s rearguard is performing admirably even without their new arrival.
However, Arsene Wenger has clearly identified the fragility of numbers in central defence which led to the detrimental situation of left-back Nacho Monreal being drafted in to cover the injured Laurent Koscielny earlier in the campaign.
Gabriel’s arrival not only solves this particular issue, but by all accounts and statistics, Arsenal are getting one of the finest defenders in La Liga outside of Spain’s power trio.
Applauded off the pitch to a rapturous reception as he bid farewell, Brazilian-born Gabriel’s strength and dynamism at the back had been integral to an incredible 18-match unbeaten streak, boasting 11 clean sheets in all competitions.
The return to full fitness of attacking threats Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil – both scorers against Villa – only adds further credence to the Londoners coming good on their 1/4-rated top-four chances yet again.
Meanwhile, two of their biggest threats for the hallowed berths in Liverpool and Tottenham remained idle in the window.
Given only four points separate the clubs in this titanic struggle, though, any injection of extra quality at this stage of the season must be seen as a distinct advantage.
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