William Saliba has been an Arsenal participant for the final three years, however till now his solely appearances had are available in pre-season earlier than inevitably heading out on mortgage when the season started for actual.
Saliba was solely 18 when Arsenal agreed a switch with Saint-Etienne price as much as £27m in 2019. That instantly put large expectation on his shoulders and his lack of motion over the previous three years had at instances left followers scratching their heads.
However because the Gunners took to the sphere towards Crystal Palace for his or her 2022/23 Premier League opener on Friday evening, Saliba was a part of the lineup and seemed each bit like he belonged there.
The Frenchman continues to be solely 21 even now, however seems to have benefitted from Arsenal’s affected person and cautious strategy to his improvement – he performed progressively extra video games every season he spent away on mortgage, culminating in 52 with Marseille in 2021/22.
Stats revealed that Saliba solely misplaced three passes all evening, made seven clearances and in addition received the ball again on seven events. He was named man of the match and supervisor Mikel Arteta commented afterwards: “Rightly so”.
Saliba was praised for his imposing physique and stature, which made Arsenal mechanically look stronger earlier than a ball had been kicked – Gary Neville likened him to a younger Rio Ferdinand.
“You want the correct stability,” Arteta went on to inform Sky Sports activities. “Physicality on this league, you can not come quick, as a result of when you do you received’t be capable to take care of sure video games and sure opponents.”
Arsenal did certainly want that further resilience within the second half when Palace grew in confidence and threatened to get again into the sport after they had been solely trailing by a purpose. However Saliba, who now stands to be a real choice all season, ensured the clear sheet remained intact.