If I asked you to list three Arsenal players who have been the most consistent this season, I’m confident you’d name William Saliba as one of them. The Frenchman has been outstanding, elevating Arsenal’s defense. There’s a lot we could say about his skill in the Arsenal defense, but I believe Gabriel Jesus conveyed nicely what Saliba offers to the squad.
Gabriel Jesus, sometime back on the Denilson show, admitted this about the Frenchman: “When he plays, we concede few goals; when he doesn’t play, the number (goals conceded) increases.
“When I got injured, Eddie replaced me very well. Then we signed Leo (Trossard). We kept the pace.
“But when Saliba got injured, it was complicated. The other defenders are good, but we were playing in a certain way. Look at the stats; we concede a lot less with him.”
Arsenal’s defense is in capable hands with Saliba and all the Gunners can hope for is that he can stay fit throughout the season. That said, Mikel Arteta is eager to see his defender develop into a complete footballer who can not just thrive defensively but also contribute offensively.
In Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Burnley before the international break, Saliba headed the ball in from a Leandro Trossard corner. That was a great moment, and I imagined Saliba excelling in both defense and scoring – that would be fantastic. It certainly would be, and Mikel Arteta revealed after the game that they are in training with Saliba to make the most of his physicality when they play set pieces.
Arteta said this via Arsenal.com about Saliba’s 6ft 4 advantage in the penalty area: “We are big lads! Willy is a real presence, but he hasn’t yet shown that skill consistently, and we are really working with him in training because he can be much more dominant in the penalty area and at the back, and his goal against Burnley showed that. I congratulate my assistants, who have worked tirelessly with Willy. We are the team that generates the most set pieces.”
Arsenal has already won 153 aerial battles and had 21 headers at goal after 12 league games. This is far better than their performance last season.
Aside from Saliba, Zinchenko, Ben White, Gabriel, and Tomiyasu are all exceptionally tall. In fact, though unconfirmed, some argue Arsenal has the tallest defense.
This physicality is a plus for Arsenal; it hasn’t been available at the Emirates in years, so they should capitalize on it.
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