Arsenal: William Saliba's MOTM highlights vs Crystal Palace

Arsenal's Saliba stars vs Palace.

William Saliba made a real statement for Arsenal on Friday night.

After three years of hype on the back of his move from Saint-Étienne as a fledgling youngster, Gooners finally got to see what Saliba was all about as he made his competitive debut against Crystal Palace.

It’s crazy to think that it’s taken so long for the 21-year-old to make his Arsenal debut, especially given the undeniable quality that he showed out on loan with Nice and Marseille.

Saliba shines vs Palace

And clearly Saliba is able to transfer the form that saw him named Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year last season to the Premier League, because he proceeded to put on a Man of the Match display at Selhurst Park.

While fellow debutants Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko also drew plenty of applause from the travelling support, it was the three-years-in-the-making bow that really caught the eye.

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That’s because Saliba looked as though he’d been playing in England’s top-flight for years as he commanded Arsenal’s back-line alongside Zinchenko, Ben White and Gabriel Magalhães.

Saliba’s dominant display at the back was perhaps most finely demonstrated by his one-on-one battle with Wilfried Zaha, which culminated in the type of penalty box challenge that you rarely see these days.

Saliba after Palace 0-2 Arsenal
Soccer Football – Premier League – Crystal Palace v Arsenal – Selhurst Park, London, Britain – August 5, 2022 Arsenal’s William Saliba, Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey celebrate after the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Saliba’s individual highlights

But there was much more to the young Frenchman’s output than just one masterful tackle as he cut a calm and collected presence on the ball, keeping possession ticking and firing off a long ball when necessary.

In fact, Saliba was handed the Man of the Match award for his efforts with SofaScore clocking him in at seven clearances, 94% passing accuracy, zero fouls conceded and an overall rating of 7.4 out of 10.

So, it’s pretty easy to see why his individual highlights make for such an exciting watch, underlining both the hype and statistics by showing him off as a readymade star for Arsenal’s back line.

Fan reaction

Yup, this lad’s got it.

While there’s obviously only so much you can gather from just one Premier League outing, the telling thing is that Saliba’s commanding display aligned perfectly with the hype that surrounded him in France.

Words of approval

And we weren’t alone in being impressed with Saliba’s Arsenal bow as he also drew praise from Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher, who remarked at Selhurst Park: “I thought he was really good. He looks the part, he looks a good player.

“I think Arsenal fans have been excited for this lad for a while… he looks the real deal. Bringing him in certainly adds something. Just his physical stature, will certainly help them in tough away games.”

Saliba celebrates with Arsenal.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Crystal Palace v Arsenal – Selhurst Park, London, Britain – August 5, 2022 Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli celebrates scoring their first goal with Granit Xhaka, Oleksandr Zinchenko and William Saliba Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Arteta himself was on the same wavelength, too, remarking after the game: “You don’t really see that at 21-years-old for a debut in the Premier League against this opponent where you face difficult players and resolve the situation the way he’s done it with that composure, with that calmness and with that presence. So big credit to the boy.”

It looks like Arsenal have got themselves a gem.

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