Rio Ferdinand believes a “little triangle” at Arsenal gives Mikel Arteta’s side the edge over Liverpool in the Premier League title race this season.
The Gunners went top of the Premier League on Saturday, taking advantage of Manchester City’s draw with Liverpool earlier in the day with victory over Brentford.
Kai Havertz’s late header secured all three points for Mikel Arteta’s side but Ferdinand reckons it’s Arsenal’s defending which makes them City’s biggest threat.
Speaking after the game, Ferdinand was full of praise for Saliba and Gabriel. “Me and Crouchy were sitting here thinking about how good these two are, they want to be aggressive, they want to defend with that high line,” he told TNT Sports.
“They have the best defensive record in the league at the moment and Declan Rice is perfect in front of them in the middle at the moment. That little triangle is going to be key for them going forward and it’s how they’re going to be successful.
“In today’s game having pace is how you get ahead of the other teams, especially at the back. It means you can play that high line and for the last two seasons, Brentford’s attack has given teams so many problems.
“Toney, Wissa and Mbeumo, they’ve all given teams nightmares because of their pace and aggressive run-ins. Today, one of them gets past Saliba – who is there to mop it up? Gabriel. He gives it back to Saliba and they work it out between them.
“To win anything, you have to have a centre-back pairing that you can trust. They’re the reason why I put them above Liverpool in the title race and they’re why they can challenge City this year.”
Reflecting on the result, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed his side’s resilience and patience. He said: “We are so happy, I think we fully deserved to win the game.
“I thought we played extraordinarily well, we had some big moments, we should’ve scored much earlier than that but it’s a tough place to come to, they never make it easy. But we showed a lot of resilience, a lot of belief, a lot of patience when we needed it and it’s a big win.”