Arsenal boss Arteta admits mistake over Europa League exclusion

Mikel Arteta has admitted that he made a mistake by leaving Arsenal’s William Saliba out of his playing squad for the Europa League.

The French defender signed from St Etienne last summer in a deal that included him staying with his former club for last season, and he joined up with our playing squad towards the end of the Premier League campaign last term.

With French football having ended their divisions early thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, Saliba’s last competitive match was on March 8, and Mikel Arteta had previously doubted his readiness to compete for a role in his senior squad, but he now admits that he was wrong, and that he is now building up his confidence and improving his English which is a huge plus.

“I feel really bad for William Saliba,” Arteta explained ahead of the Europa League clas (via Goal). “Because we had so many central defenders, we decided to leave him out of the squad which was really hurtful for me to do.

“I was hoping that Pablo would be back in two weeks but he had a setback and then we don’t have Pablo and we don’t have William when he’s fit and available to play, but when you make those decisions, you can’t always think about every possible outcome.”

Asked if Saliba was making progress after a tentative start to life at Arsenal, Arteta added: “Yes, he’s in a much better place.

“He’s feeling a lot more confident around the place, his language is improving and he’s starting to understand much better what we’re doing physically.

“He’s played a few games with the under-23s which he needed because he didn’t play any football in the last seven or eight months. Things are progressively getting better and better.”

Saliba’s former team-mate Wesley Fofana is also enjoying a role in the Premier League with Leicester, but Saliba was believed to be the better of the two, which can only mean big things…

Could Saliba make his Premier League debut against Manchester United this weekend?


Tags mikel arteta William Saliba


  1. He didn’t admit making a mistake. He acknowledged that losing 4 CBs was unforeseeable and laments not having Saliba to fall back on now.

    It seems that Arteta didn’t feel Saliba was mentally ready to be integrated in the first team but is steadily getting there. In a time of mental fragility, it’s easy to understand that the pressure of being in the first team could be ruinous. He’s young. Plenty of time. Let’s just be patient.

    1. No matter how unforeseeable it may be….we knew we had too many CBs and some would need to be dropped from the squad. The crazy thing is, he chose to drop the young prospect instead of the dead weight that has been making huge mistakes every season since his arrival. Mustafi also chose not to sign a new contract and is looking to leave at the end of the season….he does not want to be here. So why play him? All of this mentally ready stuff is idiotic to me…..why bother signing a player who is not ready? Did you see his old partner playing for Leicester the other day?? That was the one who was BEHIND Saliba (in terms of readiness) and he played very well. So why can Saliba not play? The decisions at Arsenal are getting more and more ridiculous. At some point you have to play these players and not be scared of what might happen. If you find he is not coping, take him out of the firing line.

  2. Sorry but this sounds like an amateur hour mistake. You have a 19 year old we spent 30mill on and you are trying to ease him in and you get easy opposition in Europa League, and he’s not one of the first names you want on your team sheet in these matches? Because Mustafi and Pablo Mari might be fit again…. Both deadweights. One just has yet to show it. Arsenal is not over the era of awful decision making clearly.

    1. Excellent point RSH regarding the exclusion of Saliba. These early rounds are a perfect opportunity for the young man to get some game time, as opposed to Mustafi who has decided to move on after this year. Hard to believe that Willock can make the EL roster but Saliba can’t? How many GK did we register?
      Some Arteta decisions lately have left people scratching their heads; Willian as a 9, Auba on the RW, lacking creativity and he drops both Ceballos and Xhaka back as defensive cover.
      Just saw an article where Willian admits to struggling with the tactics regarding attacking that Arteta asks of the players, he says it is taking him a while.
      Perhaps Arteta trying to manage every movement, step, pass, run, etc…. is not the best strategy.

  3. It pains me to say this, but you are justified in what you say RSH.Playing Auba on the right and excluding AMN and to a lesser extent Nelson,are other errors which to me are a concern even at this early stage in the season.Let’s hope Arteta can galvanize his team to produce a very good performance against a Man Utd team which will be on a high after their great win last night.

    1. I’m with Arteta for the long term, but I just feel bad for Saliba who made this big move abroad and isn’t really part of the squad yet. I know he’s had personal issues recently but sitting out Europa and not playing football surely cannot be what he wants? It’s very bad of Arsenal to be mishandling his career already. He was starting Ligue 1 matches and now he gets U-23 games? I am so nervous about the United match. A lot of people will start to question him if he loses 4 matches already, and against every single side we are supposed to be competing with.

  4. I can’t believe we are playing Mustafi when he has TURNED DOWN a contract offer and makes constant mistakes. Didn’t include Saliba and dropped Sokrates and Ozil. These are really idiotic decisions and only weaken our team. Why pay these players to do nothing? We might as well play them while they are here. Ozil would have definitely been able to contribute more than a costly mistake every game. Whoever is making these decisions is hurting our club and should be made to stand up and admit it is their choice. If it was Arteta (and I really doubt that) then he is digging his own grave…..he will fail due to those choices. Our team are not creating and our chief creator has been dropped for our squad. We have a defensive crisis and our new £27m young defensive prospect has been left out of our squads….we persist in playing a defender who constantly does incredibly silly things and also does not want to be at Arsenal. Why??? Arteta will be seen as weak as Emery if/when he has to back track and start to play these players.

  5. I hope the decision to leave Saliba out doesn’t change his mind of playing for Arsenal for a long time

  6. Arteta having acknowledged his mishandling of Saliba, must now reward him(Saliba) with the opportunities to play for Arsenal before the current set of fringe players .who have no future at the club. I hope in the January transfer window, Arsenal will get rid of the likes of Mustafi, Sokratis, Chambers, Soares,Mari,Ozil, Kolasinac and Lacazette. The midfield needs to be strengthened and Arteta, must buy Houssem Aouar and Dominik Szoboszlai,to improve the quality of the team’s creativity and attack. Also, Arsenal should focus on giving young talents more opportunities to play in the premier league, as players rotation will be vital in sustainable team fitness and competitiveness. Finally, Arteta must strike a balance between attacking and defending. Teams must score goals to win matches, hence, is the importance of a potent-attacking style of play. Defensive style of play can only result in draws or losses not wins.

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