William Saliba had one of the best Premier League debuts in history for Arsenal against Crystal Palace

William Saliba had one of the best Premier League debuts in history for Arsenal against Crystal Palace

New signings Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus both made their Arsenal debuts after joining from Manchester City in the summer.

But it was Saliba, a £27m addition from Saint-Etienne in 2019, who made the biggest impression.

Until the outing against Crystal Palace, the 21-year-old had never played a single minute for the Gunners, instead spending the last three seasons on loan back in his native France.

Still, you wouldn’t have known it from his mature performance against Palace, where he really looked like a new signing.

Playing at centre-back alongside Gabriel Magalhães, he was incredibly composed whenever Palace posed a threat – finishing the game with 100% tackle completion, 100% aerial success, 94% pass accuracy, seven ball recoveries and six clearances.

He didn’t make a single mistake either, but produced a perfectly clean tackle to prevent Wilfried Zaha inside the penalty area in the second half.

And his huge performance thrilled Arsenal fans on his social media:

Mikel Arteta hailed Saliba’s performance as “phenomenal” in helping Arsenal keep a clean sheet, but Gary Neville went a step further by comparing him to his former Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand.

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

“We see a lot of players get stuck between the first team and the reserves and they don’t get football,” Neville continued Sky Sports after the match.

“Saliba has got football inside him and I was hugely impressed with him.

“It reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand. He will actually get stronger and his body will become more coordinated. He is such a young centre-back still at the age of 21.

“Crystal Palace away, it’s a tough away game in the Premier League because they throw everything at you. The forwards at Palace challenge you one on one, they run at you all the time and they never give you a moment’s peace.

“This is a big night for Saliba, who is debuting with such a strong performance.”

Next up for Saliba and Arsenal is the first home game of the season against Leicester at the Emirates on Saturday 13 August.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.