Arsenal star duo William Saliba and Gabriel are the best defensive pairing since the Invincibles, claims Sol Campbell… but the Gunners icon admits there is one issue that could cost them in the title race
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  • Saliba and Gabriel have contributed to Arsenal earning the league’s best record
  • Campbell partnered Kolo Toure in 2003/04 season as Arsenal went unbeaten
  • It will do Arsenal no harm at all to have Arteta out of sight at Villa Park – It’s All Kicking Off

William Saliba and Gabriel are Arsenal‘s best defensive partnership since the Invincibles, Sol Campbell has claimed.

The pair have become Mikel Arteta’s first choice centre backs in a Gunners backline that has conceded just 14 goals in 15 games, securing itself as the best defensive record in the league alongside Liverpool.

It’s a partnership that has helped Arsenal to the top of the Premier League once more as the look to challenge for their first title since the 2003/04 Invincibles season.

Campbell was a key part of that side having joined from Tottenham for free that summer, partnering Kolo Toure in 25 of the 38 games that saw Arsene Wenger‘s side concede just 26 goals on their way to an unbeaten season.

And the former Gunner has been full of praise for the current duo at the club, branding them, speaking to The Sun, the best pair since the record-breaking season 19 years ago. 

Sol Campbell has clamed that William Saliba (left) and Gabriel (right) are Arsenal's best defensive partnership since the Invincibles

Sol Campbell has clamed that William Saliba (left) and Gabriel (right) are Arsenal’s best defensive partnership since the Invincibles

Campbell (second right) partnered Kolo Toure (second left) in 25 of the 38 games in the 2003/04 season

Campbell (second right) partnered Kolo Toure (second left) in 25 of the 38 games in the 2003/04 season

Arsenal's current pair have helped contribute to the Gunners having the best defensive record in the Premier League

Arsenal’s current pair have helped contribute to the Gunners having the best defensive record in the Premier League

‘You’d have to say, yes [they are],’ Campbell said. ‘You don’t want to disrespect the others that have come after me and before this current partnership but Gabriel and Saliba have come just at the right time for Arsenal.

‘Right now, it is beautiful. They have been given time to build a relationship. They’re playing incredible football and they’re not mucking about. You can see the will in their eyes, the fire in their bellies.

‘It is not perfect, yet it is so strong. They have real confidence. Once you get it, never disrespect it.

‘That old Roman saying of never resting on your laurels, that’s when big mistakes can happen.

‘You win titles and cups by having a strong backline pair, and Arsenal have that to look forward to over the next few years. Long may it last.’

Mikel Arteta's side top the table and the Spaniard will hope they are better equipped for a title challenge this season

Mikel Arteta’s side top the table and the Spaniard will hope they are better equipped for a title challenge this season

Campbell did, however, suggest that Arsenal's goalkeeping problem could cause problems

Campbell did, however, suggest that Arsenal’s goalkeeping problem could cause problems

While it hasn’t been the perfect season for Arsenal, Arteta’s side are two points clear at the summit of the division, six ahead of Manchester City, who beat them to the punch last year despite the London side leading for the majority of the campaign.

Arsenal may be more experienced for a challenge this time around, but Campbell picked out a key part of Arsenal’s defensive set-up that could cause issues this time around. 

‘The only sticky part is the David Raya/Aaron Ramsdale situation,’ he said. ‘In those really tense moments, on a knife-edge, you need to know exactly what your goalkeeper is going to do.

‘If it keeps on changing, or if this situation carries on, no centre-half will turn around and say, “Yeah, we don’t mind”. Your mindset changes. Doubt creeps in. At this elite level, another half a second of thought can cost you.’

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

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