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It’s all about Saliba: Arsenal star heaped in praise following competitive debut

William Saliba won over fans and pundits on Friday evening with a starring display vs Crystal Palace.

Arsenal kicked off their 2022/23 campaign vs a Crystal Palace side they had beaten just once in their previous eight attempts.

However, when the final whistle blew on Friday, a new-look Arsenal came away with a 2-0 victory.

The Gunners began the match the much brighter of the two sides and, in truth, could have had the game won in the first half.

However, with the score still at 1-0, Palace continued to press and did cause the north Londoners some issues before eventually conceding a second late on to kill off their hopes of a comeback.

The likes of Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli caught the eye at Selhurst Park. But it was William Saliba, who made his competitive debut on Friday three years after signing for Arsenal, that really engulfed much of the pre-match chat,

Mikel Arteta praised the Frenchman in his post-match press conference.

Arteta then revealed what he told Saliba before the game: “Let him be and let him play. It’s the way he’s done it. The way we have tried to develop that player with his consent and with his knowledge.

“To sign a player at 19 and bring him back two years later is unusual and he’s been so determined and willing to come here and now prove the point that he’s ready. Now we are exposing the player in a really difficult environment where he can be comfortable and navigate and enjoy as well.”

Elsewhere, Gary Neville, a man who has been known to be less than kind towards Arsenal in the past, compared Saliba to a young Rio Ferdinand: “He reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand and he will become stronger and his body will become more coordinated, he’s such a young centre-back.

“Crystal Palace away is a tough game, they throw everything at you, they drive at you all the time, that’s a big night for him.

“The most important thing for young players is to play football, they get stuck in between first-team and reserves, he’s got football inside him. Look, I was massively impressed by him.”

And finally, taking to social media, Jamie Carragher simply tweeted: “Very impressive tonight!”, above some stats of Saliba’s from the Palace match:

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Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.

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