Former Arsenal striker hails Gunners star who makes ‘passive’ Saliba look good

Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes has made himself undroppable by bringing the aggression to the Gunners’ backline, according to Kevin Campbell.

The Gunners find themselves top of the Premier League table after ten matches with Mikel Arteta’s side facing Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday.

A win against the Saints would see them restore their four-point lead over defending champions Manchester City, who beat Brighton 3-1 on Saturday.

William Saliba has been praised more than most this season while his fellow Arsenal centre-back Gabriel has come in for a little bit of criticism at times.

The Brazilian has made a number of individual errors this season with former Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand recently predicting that Arsenal could eventually look to replace him.

Ferdinand told his Vibe with Five YouTube channel: “As centre backs, you don’t really want to be talked about a lot during a game.

“If you can just ghost through most games and put an eight out of 10 performance in you’re flying.

“But every week he’s in the headlines or he’s in underneath with a little bullet point next to his name and a bad incident.

“I don’t know if you replace him. Sometimes someone with that energy, as much as you maybe call it a liability, he’s performing. Time will tell if he’s someone you want to stick by.

“I don’t like emotional defenders, that’s what I always say about centre backs, I don’t like emotional ones who get caught up in the moment in games.

“They leave you a man down at times and can be a bit impulsive and jump out and make mad decisions in big moments.

“If he can grow out of that you’ve got a good player there.”

But former Arsenal striker Campbell thinks a “passive” defender like Saliba needs “an aggressor” like Gabriel “next to him”.

Campbell told The Metro: “As far as I’m concerned Arsenal need one aggressive centre-half. Someone who’s going to go and put his head in where it hurts and challenge the opposition forwards physically and mentally.

“Saliba is the cool, calm and collected one who cleans up for others, but there has to be an aggressor next to him.

“Having two ‘passive’ centre backs is a forward’s dream! Gabriel is the kind of defender forwards don’t like playing against.

“You need one of those centre backs to be the one who goes into forwards and butt heads essentially and that’s what we’ve got in Gabriel.

“Let’s be honest, players make mistakes, and it doesn’t matter who you are, you can make mistakes in a football match. There’s been some glaring ones at times I’ll admit, but for all of those mistakes, Arsenal still sit top of the league.

“I’m a big fan of Gabriel, I think he’s committed to what the club are doing, and the numbers suggest he’s having a very good season so far.”

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