‘He grew as a person and a football player’ – Emmanuel Petit hails Arsenal star who ‘wasn’t sure Arteta wanted him’ for making a big impression
Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit has become lyrical about fellow Frenchman William Saliba after being impressed with his performances for the Gunners this season.
Arsenal continued their strong start to the season with a 3-1 win over north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. They now sit atop the Premier League table with 21 points from eight games.
Saliba’s performances in defense have been integral to the Gunners’ form so far this campaign. He helped the team keep three clean sheets in the league, while contributing as many goals.
The centre-back joined the North London giants in 2019 but has spent the last three seasons on loan in France. He was ready to leave the club for good if he was not guaranteed regular playing time when he returned this summer.
However, Mikel Arteta has since shown his faith in Saliba by making him a regular starter in his team. The Spaniard is already reaping the rewards of his decision as the 21-year-old continues to impress for Arsenal.
Assessing Saliba’s performance this season, Petit highlighted how concerned the defender is about his playing time with Arsenal. The former Gunners midfielder went on to claim the youngster stabilized Arteta’s backline. He told Premier League Productions [via HITC]:
“He made a strong impression in France when he played for Marseille. He also deserved his French caps with the national team because he was brilliant all season.”
“I think he came back to the club, he wasn’t sure Arteta wanted him to play and he wanted guarantees. He’s shown maturity over the last two seasons and leadership in the middle of defense. He played well, that’s the most important thing.”
“He’s grown as a person and a football player. I think he’s taken on more responsibility and also shown more confidence – Saliba has stabilized the defense and they’re gaining confidence.”
Arsenal will next face Liverpool in the Premier League
After beating Tottenham, Arsenal will now turn their sights to their next UEFA Europa League game. They are due to face off with Bodo/Glimt on Thursday October 6th.
The Gunners will then return to Premier League action on Sunday, October 9. They will face last season’s runners-up Liverpool, who are yet to win away in the league this term, at the Emirates Stadium.