We shouldn’t like it, but we did.
When Gabriel smashed his arm across the face of Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic, Gooners the world over smiled. Some cheered. I know I did.
Not only had the Stoke man tried to do the same to Gabriel first, he was also the player who needlessly shoved Mathieu Debuchy into the advertising hoardings last season; an act that resulted in the French defender missing a large chunk of the season with a dislocated shoulder.
While that thought was at the forefront of the mind of many Arsenal fans, it was a deeper, longer lasting impression that Gabriel’s smash left us with.
Here was an Arsenal player who, instead of simply playing on when an opposition player had tried to hurt him had turned around and smashed him harder.
It’s not pretty, and it shouldn’t be condoned, but for many, if not all of us, to see an Arsenal player finally standing up for himself was a thing of twisted beauty.
Arnautovic’s reaction, too, was hilarious.
Here was a player who thinks nothing of inflicting serious injury (or at least trying to) on an opposition player absolutely furious that someone had dared to do to him what he had just tried, and failed, to do himself.
In my head, as Gabriel’s arm met Arnautovic’s face, he muttered the only words in English that he knows – ‘Debuchy says hello’ – but he didn’t. He simply looked at Arnautovic and shrugged.
What’s your problem?
Don’t like it up you?