In 2021/22, Arsenal were a far better team defensively than in previous campaigns.

The additions of Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Aaron Ramsdale to the back-line strengthened the team as a whole.

However, the one thing missing from Arsenal‘s pragmatic department last season was depth.

If one of Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel Magalhaes or Kieran Tierney was sidelined with injury, the Gunners were a far weaker outfit.

But in 2022/23, things will be different. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been brought in to provide top-quality cover for Tierney and William Saliba is back in the fold to add depth at centre-back.

The France international spent last season on loan at Marseille, where he was widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the country.

Arsenal fans have been desperate for him to be involved in first-team matters and now that they’ve got their wish, Saliba has not disappointed one bit.

The 21-year-old played the full 90 minutes in the Gunners’ 4-0 win over London rivals Chelsea

 in pre-season and he barely put a foot wrong.

Saliba was a commanding presence throughout the match and right at the start of proceedings, he made a brilliant recovery tackle to thwart the pacey Timo Werner.


Well played, William.

Saliba is lightning-quick for a defender, strong as an ox, can play line-breaking passes from deep and reads the game brilliantly for someone so young.

All those attributes were on show against Chelsea, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount unable to get the better of him.

Video: Saliba’s magnificent highlights vs Chelsea

Arsenal have got an absolute gem in Saliba, haven’t they?

After the game, Mikel Arteta was full of praise for the defender, which will be music to the ears of the club’s fans.

The Arsenal manager said: “I am really pleased to see the way he is playing, the way he has adapted to the team, the maturity that he’s shown at 21-years-old, carry on doing it.

“We will keep developing him, he has a huge potential, he is already a top player and we have to make him even better. He looked ready to me today.”


Saliba’s presence in the squad strengthens the right-back department, as well as the centre-back one.

The Frenchman can play out wide himself and if he’s available for selection, it means White can also be deployed in the position – like he was against Chelsea.

Arsenal’s days of being reliant on Nuno Tavares and Cedric Soares appear to be over…


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