The Brazilian has been a key part of Arteta’s lavish transformation of the Gunners into real title contenders, but saw his place under threat at the start of this season with the arrival of Jurrien Timber and a preference to play Ben White at centre-back and Thomas Partey at right-back.
The experiment lasted just two games, hindered largely by Timber’s serious knee injury, and Gabriel was soon back alongside William Saliba and has played almost every minute since. Sunday's London derby at West Ham will be his 150th appearance for the club.
"It was tough, obviously at the start. I wanted to play and it was very difficult for me but I understood what the coach had to do," Gabriel told PA news agency.
"It is difficult for any player to not be in the team but now I'm back in I want to keep on working hard to prove my worth.
"(Arteta) spoke to me and obviously explained the reasons behind the decision. Why I should stay - but the most important thing was to remain focused and concentrate - he knew how important I was to the team, so I'm happy to be back and to be able to help the team in every game.
"I'm happy to be back in the team and hopefully I can help them moving forward."