Pundit praises clever Arsenal strategy that could give them key title race advantage

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Pundit Garth Crooks has praised Arsenal’s clever strategy for celebrating their defensive strength in away games as it seems to give them a psychological edge in difficult matches on the road in the Premier League.

The Gunners earned a convincing 3-0 win away to Brighton at the weekend, putting them top of the table with seven games to go, and Crooks was impressed with the moment when Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba celebrated a defensive block together, which ensured a clean sheet.

The block from Gabriel, who made Crooks’ Premier League team of the week on BBC Sport, was not a crucial moment in terms of winning the game as it would surely only have given Brighton a late consolation, but it’s clear how much it means to these Arsenal players that they’re so hard to beat these days.

The north London outfit have often been characterised in the past for being a bit of a soft touch, but they’re now incredibly solid and barely give their opponents a sniff at goal, perhaps partly due to this kind of mentality from players like Gabriel and Saliba.

Gabriel Magalhaes celebrates for Arsenal

In a close title race where goal difference could also be key, it will be important for Arsenal to keep on closing games out like this if they are to maintain that narrow advantage over Liverpool and Manchester City.

Arsenal praised for ‘clever’ strategy

Discussing Arsenal’s strategy, Crooks said: “How Arsenal defend in their next seven Premier League fixtures will determine whether they will be crowned champions or not. That is why their entire back five celebrated as if they had scored a goal when Gabriel blocked a shot in the dying minutes of a match that had already been won against Brighton. To concede at that stage in the 3-0 victory would have been a no more than a mere consolation for the home side.

“Nonetheless, Arsenal’s fifth consecutive clean sheet away from home signifies something far more meaningful. It suggests they know they are on a roll and the momentum they have created could see them through to the last day of the season. Gabriel and William Saliba have been magnificent in this regard and they have created a formidable centre-back partnership.”

He added: “Saliba was the first player to run to Gabriel after the Brazilian defender made an excellent late block, which was exactly the spirit Arteta was referring to. What is also conspicuous is the way Arsenal are stirring the emotions of their away supporters.

“The Gunners have some difficult journeys to make between now and the end of the season in order to lift the title and their players will need their passion and support. So celebrating their victories so vividly and openly is building even greater momentum, with everyone looking forward to the next away fixture. It’s a clever strategy and one that may in the end prove pivotal to their title challenge.”

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