Former Arsenal star Sol Campbell has questioned the fighting mentality of the club’s current crop of players, suggesting that they have gone soft.
The defender was part of the Invincibles side of 2003/04 that were lauded for their strong, physical presence as well as for their attractive style of football.
Fans can only crave a return to those days in recent times as the club had their worst run in the Premier League after more than two years by finishing 8th in the table for the 2020/21 season.
Although many reasons can be attributed to the club’s recent decline, one major criticism has been on their lack of grit in matches and Campbell noted this as well.
In a chat with Ladbrokes, Campbell said: “When I was at Arsenal we had a team of tough guys… I don’t know whether things have softened now.
“When I was there we had a team full of tough guys. All great gentlemen, straight-talking. There were loads of characters, great banter and with that came a few fights from time to time. But above all that, it was a team full of great personalities; great people.
“We didn’t shy away from things at all. Is football like that now? Are Arsenal like that now? I don’t think so.”
“We were ruthless gentlemen. There is such a thing; you know what’s good and what’s bad but when it comes to football there’s no mucking around. It’s as simple as that.”
He added: “Does the club want to start again, forgetting about how Arsenal of old used to win? You have to ask the guys at the top. It’s a different time now.
“It was extremely tough when we were playing; I don’t know whether things have softened now. Has life softened? Regardless, you still need those players with that fight inside of them who can go away to Burnley on a windy midweek night and get a result.”
Campbell was also concerned that the more experienced players at the club like Hector Bellerin and Granit Xhaka were being linked with moves away from the club, especially after David Luiz’s recent departure.
Goalkeeper Bernd Leno is also being linked with a move away from the club this summer and Alexandre Lacazette could leave if the club decide not to tie him down to a new contract.
“Who is going to change Arsenal Football Club? I think they need to have a look around the place at some of the senior players there,” Campbell said.
“Do they keep a couple of players around to help bring on the youngsters? You can’t just go and get rid of all of your experienced players.
“You don’t want to sever ties completely with players like that because otherwise there’ll be no one around who can teach new signings and younger players the ways of the club.”