Gabriel claims whole Arsenal team responsible for defensive woes in Tottenham defeat

James Benge

Arsenal centre-back Gabriel has claimed that the Gunners’ defensive struggles at Tottenham were due to more than just Arsene Wenger’s back three.

The 26-year-old gave away the penalty from which Harry Kane secured Spurs’ 2-0 win with a careless lunge on the striker, who was heading away from goal and towards the byline at the time.

Coming moments after Dele Alli had poked home Spurs’ opener it left Arsenal with too great a mountain to climb as they fell to a defeat that guaranteed Tottenham will finish above their North London rivals for the first time since 1995.

It was also the first time in four games that Arsenal had been defeated playing their new 3-4-2-1 formation, with Wenger having introduced the system in an attempt to add defensive solidity to his creaking backline. Gabriel, though, believes the Gunners’ defensive problems went far beyond the centre-backs at White Hart Lane.

“We were in a good sequence with this new formation,” he told ESPN Brasil. “We had been adapting to a new style of play. In the first half, I think we managed to defend ourselves well.

“We had some chances on the counter. But in the second half, I think we’ve come back a bit off.

“We could not play, and ended up conceding the goals in a silly error in defence. When I say the defence, it’s not just the centre-backs. I think it’s the whole team, right? Right up to the attack.”

The defeat leaves Arsenal, six points off fourth with five games left, requiring slip-ups from their rivals if they are to ensure qualification for the Champions League.

Even before the game Wenger had said Arsenal required a run of victories to secure a top four finish and Gabriel admitted that need was all the more pressing as the end of a “very difficult” season looms.

“We have to forget this game and think about the next,” the Brazilian defender added. “It was a very difficult season for us, we could not sustain a good sequence of victories.

“We had a lot of trouble. Now we need to win the games that are left to try to achieve the qualification, which is complicated. We seek to win every game now.”

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