It’s taken some time for William Saliba to work his way into the Arsenal side, and it eventually reached a point where you wondered if he might have to leave to earn regular playing time on a permanent basis.
He proved he could play consistently for a huge club at Marseille last season and there were plenty of noises about him getting a chance this season at the Emirates, but the stats from his Premier League debut show that he more than belongs at this level:
William Saliba’s Premier League debut for Arsenal:
100% take-ons completed
100% aerial duels won
94% pass accuracy
7 ball recoveries
6 passes into final third
3 duels won
0x dribbled past
0 goals conceded
0 fouls committed
Worth the wait. ? pic.twitter.com/xH2Wm0TuQs
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 5, 2022
Talent was never in doubt with the Frenchman, but he arrived with very little first-team experience and he is the kind of player who likes to bring the ball out from the back, so perhaps it did make sense for him to make those mistakes elsewhere before trusting him in the Premier League.
He demonstrated tonight that he can be the complete defender – of course, he’s still young and there will be mistakes and moments he has to learn from, but his performance was hugely encouraging for Arsenal and you get the feeling he could be a player the defence is built around for years to come.