William Saliba put in a mammoth performance in his first north London derby on Saturday, proving Mikel Arteta right to believe in him.
Ahead of the north London derby, one journalist asked Mikel Arteta whether he had any doubts about playing young William Saliba against Tottenham Hotspur’s star forwards in Harry Kane and Heung-min Son.
“William has shown over the past few months what he is capable of,” Arteta responded. “That doesn’t mean that things are always going to go in the same direction, but he’s been so good that from my side I have no doubts.”
Saliba went on to start the game and complete 90 minutes, and he was one of Arsenal’s star players in their 3-1 win.
The French centre-back won five of his seven individual duels, made three tackles without being dribbled past, and completed 96% of his passes. He even completed a dribble by casually flicking the ball through Oliver Skipp’s legs.
William Saliba vs Tottenham (H)
— ™ (@ArsenaIComps) October 1, 2022
Squawka report that Saliba has now played 720 minutes without being dribbled past once, whilst also winning possession more times than any other player in the league (71 times).
In addition, he’s also second in the league for accurate passes into the opposition half (83). In or out of possession, he’s performing excellently.
The 21-year-old still has plenty of time to develop his game even further, but he’s been one of the best defenders in the Premier League in his first proper season playing in the division.
No wonder Arteta had full faith in him to handle his first north London derby against Spurs’ in-form front three.