William Saliba was named Man of the Match by Sky Sports after his impressive debut as Arsenal beat Crystal Palace in the season opener while keeping a cleansheet, but just how impressive was he?
Playing the full 90 minutes on his official debut for the club, William Saliba was calm, assured, and quick over the ground.
The 21-year-old completed 94% of his 48 passes (to compare, Gabriel completed 89% of his 56, Ben White 73% of his 30, and Zinchenko 82% of his 49).
Saliba also made seven clearances, three headed clearances, seven recoveries and a block.
He won three of his four ground duels, all of his aerial duels, and didn’t commit a single foul.
As debuts go, I think we can call this one a success.
Speaking after the game, Saliba said of his debut, “It was very good because we start with a win and a clean sheet.
“It was a tough game, but we won at the end, so very good. I’ve waited a long time, but we (did it) in my first ever game, and I am so happy.
“It’s very good when you start to have your first (chance) in this amazing club. So I am so happy, and hungry for more.
“We knew it would be a very hard game, but we were prepared and we were focused,” he added.
“It’s good for the confidence, it’s very good and I hope we will keep going like this.
“We play as 11 and the players who came home, they gave their maximum. It’s a good team, when we play like this it’s very good.
‘We have to enjoy tonight, but beginning tomorrow we have to be focused on the next game because it’s not finished, it’s just the first game.”
Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, told reporters after the game, “For William [Saliba], to ask him to come here in his first Premier League game away from home against this physical team is a big task and the way the boy played and the way he resolved every situation, he deserves a lot of credit, and I will pat his back because he was superb.”
Arteta was then asked about Saliba saying his own performance was about the team. “It is his character,” Arteta replied.
“He’s a really humble guy and he wants to be coached and he wants to learn. He’s really focused and determined to be a success here and he’s been very patient.
“We’ve tried to explain and develop him in the right way and we’re really happy for him.”
Asked about Saliba winning the Man of the Match, Arteta said, “Rightly so. He was superb tonight again.
“The way we started the game, the first half an hour, was superb. We should have scored another one or two, we missed some chances and then, if you want to win here, you have to dig in.
“We had to play in moments, the game we don’t want to play. They put four very physical players on our last line and they had the ability to turn our press all the time. From there, you have to manage that game and that’s not easy to do because they are so good at doing that.”