Rio Ferdinand believes Arsene Wenger has got the best back four he has seen at the club for some time.
The former Manchester United defender believes the Gunners defence are a lot better without Per Mertesacker and now look “confident”.
“This is the best back four I have seen at Arsenal for many a year. They are settled and look confident,” Ferdinand told the Evening Standard.
“Laurent Koscielny has been one of the most consistent defenders for the last few seasons and has found a great partner in summer signing Shkodran Mustafi.
“I didn’t think Per Mertesacker was the right fit for Koscielny, Arsenal or this league.
“Mertesacker is a very good player and it’s unfortunate that he got an injury before the start of the season, but I think he may be more suited to other divisions in Europe.
“Wenger spent a reported £35million on Mustafi from Valencia in August and he’s looked a great acquisition so far.
“It felt like there were a few times over the years that Wenger had an opportunity to buy a top centre-half, but for one reason or another didn’t do so. Instead, he’s bought young players like Calum Chambers, who hasn’t really cut it at the club.”
Ferdinand, 37, who is now a BT Sport pundit, has also praised Arsenal’s full-backs and has hailed Hector Bellerin as the “best in the league”.
“But their improvement at the back this season is not just about Koscielny and Mustafi. I like the full-backs they have too,” added Ferdinand.
“Hector Bellerin is probably the best right-back in the Premier League right now. He is supremely quick, not shy in getting forward, but likes to defend as well.
“Nacho Monreal has turned into a consistent left-back. There are no frills about him, but he is comfortable on the ball in possession and a good defender too.
“I think keeper Petr Cech has also helped settle things down. His influence on the back four shouldn’t be underestimated.
“Arsenal’s success in the early years of Wenger’s reign was built on a solid back four and if they can get that right again now, they will have a good chance of winning silverware.
“But after all this talk of defence, I don’t expect them to be too troubled away in Ludogorets tonight and they should win to go through to the last 16 with two games to spare.”