“Best centre-back pairing in the Premier League” – Arsenal expert lauds influence of Saliba and Gabriel

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Another solid performance by Arsenal centre-back pairing, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes, has seen Arsenal transfer expert, Charles Watts, laud the defensive duo as the best in the English top-flight.

It’s difficult to disagree with Watts’ opinion, though Liverpool and Man City supporters might care to do just that.

With just 24 goals conceded in their 29 games, the Gunners have the best defensive record in the Premier League, and whilst that’s a team effort, Saliba and Magalhaes must take most of the credit because they have been immense.

Saliba and Magalhaes aren’t just Arsenal’s best

“The partnership between Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba has been the rock that Arsenal’s season has been built on, just as it was last season before Saliba picked up that costly injury in the game against Sporting Lisbon,” Watts said to CaughtOffside for his exclusive Daily Briefing.

“I genuinely feel that they are now the best centre-back pairing in the Premier League and possibly even in world football. They both just compliment each other so well. They have everything you need as a modern day centre-back to be a success.”

Arsenal fans with short memories will have forgotten that the pair didn’t actually start the season together too.

Given how in simpatico they are when lining up alongside each other, it’s a wonder that Mikel Arteta didn’t make the connection sooner.

William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes were superb for Arsenal against Man City

“It was interesting that they didn’t actually start the season playing together, with Gabriel finding himself on the bench due to Ben White partnering Saliba and Thomas Partey operating as an inverted right-back,” Watts continued.

“Arteta was adamant that it was a tactical decision and that might well have been the case. But there was strong interest from Saudi Arabia in Gabriel during the summer and there was a suggestion that the Brazilian was at least listening to what was being offered, which is no real surprise given the money that would have been on the table.”

From Saliba’s point of view, the recognition that he’s now receiving has been a long time coming.

It wasn’t that long ago when he was being consistently farmed out elsewhere, and to imagine then where he’d be now wouldn’t have been possible.

“[…] Saliba’s case was obviously a strange one, with Arsenal sending him out on loan so many times before he finally made the breakthrough in North London,” Watts added.

“Arteta will look at how he has developed and believe he did the right thing and people I spoke to back then were insistent that Saliba was not ready to be thrown straight into the first-team.”

Unless the injury curse strikes one or the other again this season or into the 2024/25 campaign, there is simply no dislodging the two of them.

They are so good that their names just roll off the tongue like those great double acts of the past.

Of course, Arteta could play one without the other and probably will at some stage, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

They form the spine of what’s becoming a great Arsenal team and are here to stay along with the likes of Declan Rice and others.

No one would begrudge them a maiden Premier League title whether that arrives this season or in the future.

More Stories Gabriel Magalhaes Mikel Arteta William Saliba

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