Saliba over Toure? – Arsenal legend Pires picks three current stars who would get in Invincibles team
Arsenal legend Robert Pires thinks three current Gunners players would get into the Invincibles team from the historic 2003-04 campaign.
Arguably the best Premier League side of all time, Arsenal went through the whole season unbeaten, but have amazingly failed to win a league title since.
They have a great chance to finally get their hands on that trophy this term with Mikel Arteta’s side leading a surprising title push.
Arteta has brought in several young players over the last few seasons and the inexperienced core has been absolutely flying in 22-23, though they are going through a bit of a slump at the minute.
The Gunners will be desperate to bounce back from Wednesday’s disappointing home loss to title rivals Manchester City when they face Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.
A win could get their season back on track, but there are fears that another disappointing result could see the wheels fall off.
However, in what is one hell of a compliment, former Arsenal winger and Invincibles hero, Pires, does see some similarities between that famous side and the current crop of players.
“There are parallels,” Pires told The Telegraph. “The idea, the essence of Arteta in terms of the game is almost the same as Wenger.
“When I see this Arsenal it reminds me of the Arsenal of my time. To play well you need talent and now they have it. This squad is built to attack, and this Arsenal is entertaining me.
“Arsenal have won against big rivals and they have enough character. The problem is that they are a young team, with little experience. I’m talking about competing for the Premier League.
“It has been many years since the club has been in a situation like this and they are up against a City side who know perfectly well how to deal with these situations of maximum stress.
“[Pep] Guardiola has more depth and alternatives on the bench and Arsenal look a little tired.”
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Ignoring losses in the domestic cup competitions and Champions League, the Arsenal Invincibles did not go through any tough periods that season, meaning Pires can not draw any comparisons as Arteta’s side look to bounce back at Villa Park.
“Everything went so well, I don’t remember any big problems,” Pires said. “We had a lot of consistency, and above all I remember the unity in the dressing room.
“We were a young team, with a desire to change things and make history,” Pires says. “And I have to mention Bergkamp and Henry, who were decisive.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Pires reckons three current Arsenal players would get in the Invincibles squad. I wouldn’t change anything personally, but the likes of Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard would certainly be useful to bring off the bench.
Saying that, the Frenchman would take Saka over himself, Odegaard over Freddie Ljungberg, and William Saliba over Kolo Toure.
“I honestly think the Arsenal of 2004 would beat the Arsenal of 2023,” Pires added. “I feel sorry for the kids now, but I’ve no doubt.
“I think the fans will give you the same answer: [Jens] Lehmann, Lauren, Saliba, [Sol] Campbell, [Ashley] Cole, [Patrick] Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Odegaard, Saka, [Dennis] Bergkamp and [Thierry] Henry.”
What a team that is, by the way.
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