Saliba and Gabriel are best Arsenal duo since Invincibles but nagging concern could cost them title, says Sol Campbell
At the heart of Arsenal’s 2004 Invincibles side was a centre-back partnership the club have attempted to replace and replicate many times since.
Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure started alongside each other in 25 of the Gunners’ incredible 38-game unbeaten Prem title-winning sequence that continues to stand the test of time.
Those that followed under Invincibles orchestrator Arsene Wenger failed to live up to that pair’s North London icon status in stature and ability.
New double acts could not produce the same results.
William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen. Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
The less said about Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos — with a sprinkling of David Luiz — under ex-boss Unai Emery the better.
But maybe, just maybe, almost 20 years on since Campbell and Toure led them to their last league title, Arsenal have finally formed a duo capable of emulating the greats of the past.
Campbell — a two-time Prem champ with 211 Arsenal appearances across two spells — believes current boss Mikel Arteta has a hold of the real deal in William Saliba and Gabriel.
Asked if Saliba and Gabriel are Arsenal’s best pairing since his Invincibles days, Campbell, 49, told SunSport: “You’d have to say ‘yes’.
“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.”