BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has praised Arsenal centre-back William Saliba for his display against Everton.
The Gunners paid £27 million to sign Saliba from Saint-Etienne in 2019. However, as impressive loan spells with Saint-Etienne, Nice, and Marseille followed that move, the Frenchman didn’t make his debut for the north London club until the opening Premier League fixture of last season.
Since then, though, the 22-year-old has been a talismanic figure at the back for Arsenal. He is incredibly composed, and plays with a maturity beyond his years. He has also formed an excellent partnership alongside Gabriel Magalhaes.
He showed his class once again at Goodison Park on Sunday. Arsenal utterly dominated the Merseyside outfit, and Saliba ensured that the home side didn’t even come close to scoring a goal. The Arsenal man looked entirely untroubled throughout the match.
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Garth Crooks heaps praise on Saliba
Former Tottenham Hotspur forward Garth Crooks was certainly impressed by Saliba’s performance against Everton. Writing for BBC Sport, he said, “there was a moment during the first half at Goodison Park on Sunday when Beto tried to run William Saliba down his left-hand side in order to get a strike in on goal. Well, the Everton striker should never have bothered. Saliba ran Beto and the ball out of play with such ease that it was like taking candy from a baby.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an Arsenal centre-back look so comfortable under pressure. Saliba is also clever enough to know when to pull out of tackles he can’t possibly win cleanly in the penalty area.”
Keeping Saliba fit is of the utmost importance to Arsenal last season. Their Premier League title push last time out fell apart after the 10-cap France international sustained an injury that ruled him out for the run in of the campaign.
Arteta needs to get the balance between reliance on Saliba, and protecting him, right. The Gunners will be playing a lot of games this season, and the £190,000-a-week star can’t play them all. The likes of Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior will need to step up in his absence at times to ensure that Saliba is fit and available when the Gunners need him most.