We take a look at the key news stories surrounding Arsenal from the day.

Petr Cech praises Gabriel

Petr Cech has praised Gabriel, echoing what Arsene Wenger first said when signing the defender about his passion for the game. Gabriel has started the last four Premier League games, first filling in at right-back as Hector Bellerin recovered from an injury and then filling in for Shkodran Mustafi, who was injured in Arsenal’s match against Stoke.

Gabriel has come in for criticism from some quarters for his performances in those games, after Arsenal lost two straight games with the Brazilian in central defence. Arsenal fans have been praying for Mustafi to recover from his hamstring injury quickly, but Petr Cech feels that the Gabriel deserves more credit.

“Gabriel is a player who plays with his heart and you can see that in every game,” Cech said, according to the club’s official website. “It always means a lot to him because he plays with a lot of emotion and does everything to help the team win.  He’s done a great job while filling in for Hector on the right and now Shkodran in the middle. He’s been doing really well.”

“Sometimes it’s not very easy when you have to fill in for players who have as much energy as Hector going up and down the wing, but I think he did a great job at right back.”

Manchester City's Spanish midfielder David Silva (L) vies with Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 18, 2016. / AFP / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Unfairly criticised? Petr Cech feels Gabriel deserves more credit for his performances at right back and centre back. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson signs professional contract

Arsenal have handed a professional contract to academy graduate Reiss Nelson. Nelson was widely considered as one of the most promising prospects in the Gunners’ under-16s side, and the new contract clearly shows that he is still considered a very exciting prospect by the clubb staff. In a statement on their official website, Arsenal confirmed that the English youngster had signed a professional contract.

“Young forward Reiss Nelson has signed his first professional contract with the club. Reiss first joined our academy aged seven, and has gone on to establish himself as an exciting talent.At 17, Reiss is already a regular for Arsenal’s under-23s. He also featured in all six of our UEFA Youth League matches this term, scoring twice.”

“An England youth international, he scored nine goals in 10 outings for the Three Lions at the European Under-17 Championship in Azerbaijan this summer.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Reiss Nelson of Arsenal battles with Javairo Dilrosun of Man City during the FA Youth Cup semi-final second leg match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on April 4, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 04: Reiss Nelson of Arsenal battles with Javairo Dilrosun of Man City during the FA Youth Cup semi-final second leg match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on April 4, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Nigerian striker dreams of playing for Arsenal

Nigerian youngster Henry Onyekuru has revealed that his dream is to play for Arsenal, and that Thierry Henry is his idol. The highly-rated teenage winger has 10 goals and 6 assists in 22 appearances for Belgian side KAS Eupen this season, and admits he’s attracted by the prospect of playing in both the Premier League and Champions League.

Onyekuru also revealed that he wants to follow the example of Genk midfielder and compatriot Wilfred Ndidi, who is reportedly close to joining Premier League champions Leicester City next month. A technically gifted winger who only arrived in Belgium from Aspire Senegal in 2015, Onyekuru believes he has the quality to one day play in the Champions League.

“I believe I have the level to one day play in the Champions League,” he said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “I look at what happened to Wilfred Ndidi. We come from the same region in Nigeria and meet up regularly. His transfer to Leicester is an example for me. The Premier League is my dream league, although I would rather go to Arsenal.”

“Football was my relaxation after school. With my friends, we watched the Premier League every weekend. I’m a huge Arsenal fan, Thierry Henry is my idol. Now I’m a professional footballer, I try to copy him as much as possible. I look back to the games I saw as a boy, but I also regularly watch videos on YouTube to see how he did certain things.”

Belgium's French assistant coach Thierry Henry attends a training in Tubize on November 12, 2016 on the eve of the 2018 World Cup European zone group H football match between Belgium and Estonia. / AFP / BELGA / LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/AFP/Getty Images)
Still an inspiration : Nigerian youngster Henry Onyekuru says that Thierry Henry is his idol and that he still watched YouTube videos of Henry to try and learn from the legendary striker. (Photo by LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/AFP/Getty Images)

Alexis Sanchez reveals what he does to stay fit

Alexis Sanchez has revealed how he maintains his fitness. Watching Sanchez play, it is easy to see just how much stamina and energy the Chilean forward possesses. Sanchez never stops running until the final minute, and is always fighting to retrieve possession or press opponents when he isn’t using his energy to drive forward.

“I have always been like this,” he said, according to the club’s official website. “My career won’t last forever and I am aiming to be one of the best players in the world. I want to do my best and be professional until my career ends. I enjoy football a lot, I always wanted to be one of the best players in the world and I’ve been saying that since I was a little boy.”

“I will slow down after I retire, but for the time being I will carry on like this. I just try to train well, sleep well and be professional at my job. There’s not much of a secret to it.”

Sanchez – who Arsenal legend Ray Parlour believes is irreplaceable for Arsenal – has been in brilliant form this season and a lot of that is not just down to his technical ability but also his fitness levels and attitude on the pitch. Arsenal fans will be hoping Sanchez does indeed carry on like this, as the Gunners attempt to climb up the table and push for a title.

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