Mikael Silvestre believes Arsenal can be Premier League title contenders this season providing Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker can stay fit.
The defensive duo have partnered each other in the last seven games in all competitions, a run that has seen them climb to second in the table and reach the Champions League last 16.
After problems with injuries at the heart of the defence, Arsene Wenger appears to have settled on Koscielny and Mertesacker as his first-choice pairing, and Silvestre says it could be the key to their title ambitions.
“It is a good year for them to be champions,” the former Arsenal defender told Omnisport.
“If you compare Arsenal to the other teams [in contention] they have a number of injuries, and yet, they are close to Leicester.
“Koscielny and Mertesacker have formed a nice partnership. If they can still play together, I think they would be able to win it.
“I think Laurent and Per have the qualities to stop the likes of Harry Kane, [Sergio] Aguero, [Anthony] Martial or [Wayne] Rooney.
“They have enough experience. I think they showed that last year when they were playing together. I hope that this year they will stay fit and play together.
“That’s something important if they want to win the league.”
The form of Olivier Giroud could also prove pivotal in Arsenal’s hopes of a first league title since 2004, and Silvestre has been impressed with the France international’s displays.
He added: “He [Giroud] is a fox in the box. At Arsenal, he has many good players around him. They can give him assists.
“I don’t know his stats this season but, even though he is often criticised, he shouldn’t be blamed. Arsenal are on top, I think he is doing well as Arsenal’s striker.”