William Saliba’s impressive performances in pre-season has put Mikel Arteta in a tight spot ahead of the new Premier League campaign.
THE LOWDOWN: LIKE A NEW SIGNING
Arsenal might have signed five names this summer, with the most exciting of all being Gabriel Jesus for obvious reasons. However, the return of William Saliba does seem like a new addition and if early indications are to go by, Arsenal fans can be excited.
Doubts had lingered over his Arsenal future ahead of this season, but he has appeared in a number of pre-season games, with Mikel Arteta indicating that he is part of his plans.
“He’s in the plans,” Arteta said. “We cannot guarantee first-team football to anybody in this team – you can ask that question to anybody.”
“What we guarantee is that the ones we really see and think are going to take us to the next level, they’re going to be playing a lot of minutes. It’s about what you do tomorrow and he’s going to have the chance to play.”
Saliba was expected to come and challenge either Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White for a starting spot but recent games and the current situation might have changed the scenario completely.
THE LATEST: SALIBA IS READY FOR THE FIRST TEAM
William Saliba has enjoyed a rather impressive pre-season for Arsenal ahead of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign. He was supposed to come in as a ‘backup’ option but his performances have now put him in line to be named in the starting lineup against Crystal Palace on Friday.
Maybe it is coincidental or not but Saliba’s performances have been highlighted by the fact that Arsenal did not concede in pre-season when the Frenchman was on the pitch. It was evident to see that the Gunners looked more assuring in defence with the 21-year-old playing alongside Gabriel Magalahes. Saliba was one of the standout names in Arsenal’s 4-0 rout of Chelsea and Mikel Arteta was quick to hail the Frenchman.
Saliba had a stellar performance against Everton and Chelsea, starting both games before making his Emirates debut against Sevilla in the Emirates Cup. Arsenal have kept a clean sheet with the youngster starring in defence in those games.
THE VERDICT: TOO EARLY TO TELL
Saliba has started in Arsenal’s last two games ahead of the new Premier League campaign and it is obvious that he has impressed Mikel Arteta. With Takehiru Tomiyasu not yet at full fitness, Ben White could start the Gunners’ season opener at right-back, leaving room for Saliba to play alongside Gabriel.
Should Saliba impress in the first two to three games in defence, Arteta will be left with a tough decision to make. Would he let Saliba retain his starting role or will the Frenchman wait again for his chance when Tomiyasu is fit and Ben White moved back to the centre? It is a difficult headache for Arteta but a brilliant one to have and it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.