Calum Chambers and William Saliba did very well in the Arsenal u23 win over Derby on Friday, as they push for first-team involvement.
Chambers and Saliba are both playing with the Arsenal academy at the moment, for different reasons.
For Chambers, after a year out with an ACL injury, he needs the games to get back to full match sharpness again. As for Saliba, he doesn’t have any fitness issues, but he’s just struggling to break into Mikel Arteta’s thinking for the first team.
Regardless of the reason for their inclusion in the u23s, both will want to impress Steve Bould to make sure the academy coach is putting in a good word for them with Arteta.
Saliba did particularly well in the Derby game on Friday. Defensively, he hardly put a foot wrong, making a few vital interceptions to stop crosses.
The centre-back was also a threat in possession, always taking the opportunity to pass forward and run into space. That eventually helped lead to the third goal of the game, as he set Arsenal on a counter finished by Kido Taylor-Hart.
But that sort of play does carry risks, and another one of Saliba’s forward passes going astray almost led to a Derby goal. He was fortunate the away side wasted the position with a shot close enough to Arthur Okonkwo for him to save it.
As for Chambers, he wasn’t quite as adventurous in possession, perhaps playing it a bit too safe. But again, he did well defensively despite splitting his time between right-back in the first-half and centre-back in the second.
The only goal they conceded was more down to a Pablo Mari mix-up with the goalkeeper, as Arsenal won the match 3-1. Neither Saliba nor Chambers will have done their standing any harm on the day.
Elsewhere, as you can read below, Arsenal defender, Mathieu Debuchy, has made it very clear that Saliba would be welcome back at his old club.
Mathieu Debuchy has said they would welcome William Saliba back to Saint Etienne as the youngster awaits his official Arsenal debut.
29/11/20 by Lee Hurley
If there’s one player who knows all about not bothering to fight for a place and buggering off somewhere else when you don’t get your own way, it’s Mathieu Debuchy.
Thankfully, William Saliba seems to have a little less diva about him than our former French defender. This is a player, you will remember, who demanded his starting shirt back after a long-term injury, despite Hector Bellerin breaking into the side and being undroppable.
Debuchy then threw a strop because Arsene Wenger wouldn’t let him go on loan to Manchester United.
“I’m sure in the current state we need two or three players to complete this squad,” the ex-Arsenal full-back told Telefoot. “Whether it is in defence and perhaps also in attack. I trust the coach to provide these solutions.
“William… we know his qualities. He was very impressive at Saint Etienne.
“Unfortunately for him at Arsenal the start didn’t go the way he wanted it to, I think. There is William, there is Wesley [Fofana], these are two defenders who left us and who did incredibly well so it was loss.
“If William wants to come back this winter he will be welcome and he will have the advantage of knowing the team.”
Saliba has been playing for Arsenal’s u23s and his performances are giving Mikel Arteta a serious headache.
Saliba was desperate for Saint-Etienne loan this summer
William Saliba was desperate to complete a loan move back to Saint-Etienne over the summer, according to his former teammate Loic Perrin.
27/11/2020, by Dan Critchlow
Loic Perrin, former teammate of William Saliba at Saint-Etienne, was speaking on Telefoot Chaine on Thursday night about the Arsenal man. He claimed Saliba was desperate to return on loan from Arsenal this summer.
As we know, that deal almost materialised in the summer window. Saint-Etienne released a statement shortly after the deadline to confirm they’d tried to agree a loan move with Arsenal, but various ‘administrative conditions’ prevented it from going through.
BUT Football Club claim Saint-Etienne were hoping to use Saliba as a temporary replacement for Wesley Fofana, who was joining Leicester City. The same track reportedly remains open for a January transfer, with very little changing in the meantime.
The biggest issue is Saliba’s salary. He’d reportedly need to give up a reasonable amount just to make the loan viable for Saint-Etienne.
You’d think the 19-year-old would be willing to do so for a few months though, particularly if it means he can play regular football and make his case for more opportunities at Arsenal.
AC Milan tried to buy William Saliba from Arsenal this summer
AC Milan wanted to sign William Saliba on a permanent deal over the summer, but Arsenal immediately rejected the request.
22/11/2020, by Lee Hurley
Arsenal signed William Saliba in the summer of 2019 and sent him back on loan to Saint-Etienne for a year, but that didn’t stop AC Milan trying to sign the defender before he’d even played a game for his parent club.
According to Fabrizio Romano, Milan wanted Saliba on a permanent deal this summer. Arsenal said no straight away, but they are thinking about sending the centre-back out on another loan in the winter transfer window.
“Arsenal are considering to send Saliba on loan,” Romano told the Here We Go podcast (via HITC). “Arsenal not happy with his situation at the club, just (as) for the player.
“AC Milan tried to sign him on a permanent deal but Arsenal immediately said no. They want him in the future.”
At the moment, Saliba is playing for the Arsenal academy teams much more often than he’s appearing in first-team squads. He’s up to three Premier League 2 appearances and one in the EFL Trophy, whilst not making a single senior squad since October 1st.
Mikel Arteta suggested they’re considering a January loan, though nothing is final just yet. Ideally, he gets a first-team opportunity before then and proves he can add something this season, but there are evidently no guarantees.
Saint-Etienne hold advantage to sign Saliba on loan in January
Saint-Etienne have an advantage in the race to sign William Saliba on loan in January, but AC Milan are also interested, according to a report.
15/11/2020, by Dan Critchlow
Pianeta Milan report that William Saliba is among the possible candidates for a move to AC Milan in January. However, Arsenal’s ideal scenario is a straight loan for the player back to Ligue 1, which gives Saint-Etienne the edge in the race.
As we recently learned from Fabrizio Romano, Milan tried to sign Saliba permanently over the summer. Arsenal immediately rejected the request, but they’re considering a loan for the player in January.
Whilst Saint-Etienne are keen on a loan, as we know from their attempts to secure one in the summer, Milan still seemingly prefer a permanent move. Hence why it’s much more likely Saliba ends up in France at this stage.
Mikel Arteta has confirmed they’ll review Saliba’s situation ahead of the January window, admitting he regrets leaving the player out of his squad for the Europa League group stage. But for the time being, he’s still playing matches with the Arsenal academy.
Ideally, we’d see the 19-year-old at least make his debut under Arteta before leaving again.
Debuchy: It’s a relief to join Saint Etienne
Mathieu Debuchy says he only wants to remember the good times at Arsenal, after leaving the Gunners for Saint Etienne on deadline day, but says he’s relieved to get his move.
01/02/2018, by Dan Critchlow
Arsenal terminated Debuchy’s contract early so he could sign a six-month deal with Ligue 1 side, Saint Etienne, on deadline day.
Thursday’s L’Equipe interviewed him about the move.
“It is a relief,” Debuchy admitted. “I had a good discussion with the coach. Saint Etienne are going through a tricky period, this club is legendary. To play in such a stadium, with the fans still behind their team, it’s great.”
On finally leaving Arsenal, after three-and-a-half years, the defender said:
“I have had some difficult times, but I only want to remember good memories. Training on a daily basis with top players, this is not given to everyone.
“I had started rather well but when you are undergoing two operations in six months (ankle and shoulder) during your first season, it complicates the task, necessarily. I still managed to come back but after, it is the choice of the coach.”
As for his new life with Saint Etienne, Debuchy says he’s raring to go:
“I’m ready to play. Physically, I am well. My last game, it was the January 7th. I’ve played in Europa League and in the League Cup this season. But maybe it will take me a little time to find the rhythm.”
The French defender made seven appearances for the Gunners this season before leaving. As he says, those appearances all came in the cups and in Europe. In fact, he only made the Premier League squad once in 25 matches, despite being fit for at least a few months.
Looking back, it feels like Arsene Wenger was just giving the right-back a chance to play his way into form and a move elsewhere. If he seriously had a chance at a long-term future with the Gunners, I think he would’ve made the squad a bit more often.
Nonetheless, the defender generally performed well in his limited opportunities this season. Even if it was for a move, at least he helped Arsenal to the League Cup final and Europa League knockout stages.
Good luck to him for the next six months and beyond.