Saliba is ready

I have no idea what happened to my scissors. I have a nice pair of scissors that I use for trimming my beard and they seem to have disappeared. And I know that it’s about 99% likely that I put them somewhere and just can’t find them but right now I have this one long hair on my neck which didn’t get caught in the trimmer and it’s driving me balls.

I can’t remember which author it was but there was a short story which I loved as a kid where the protagonist discovers that the reason why things get misplaced is because the future is constantly being built piece by piece by a mysterious group of spirits or creatures. And thus, due to the complexity of the universe as currently constructed, a few things go missing from time to time. And when they reappear – almost always in the exact spot you KNOW you looked several times – that’s because a supervisor realized the error and corrected it.

I find this a much more reasonable explanation for my misplaced beard scissors than “nah, you just put them down someplace weird because you have ADD.”

Speaking of..

Last season William Saliba had the following outstanding stats (via FBREF)

  1. Led League One in attempted and completed passes (4th in per90 behind guys like Verratti, PSG)
  2. The only outfield player who was more accurate than Saliba in short and medium passes was Marquinhos (PSG)
  3. Completed 86% of his long passes
  4. Was 8th in final third entry passes
  5. Made 166 progressive passes

When I first started watching football, a center back’s job was mainly to head the ball away and yell at his teammates*. Of course they also had to pass the ball pretty well but let’s not pretend that how well a CB passes the ball forward was a data point on anyone’s radar. In fact, it was an underappreciated skill. Something that only the top clubs looked for in a CB. More often we wanted to know how well they headed the ball, how fast they recovered, and how good they were at tackling.

Now, though, every team needs a ball-playing CB – it’s not just something for the few elite teams. Even Southampton and Brighton want CBs who can play long, accurate passes on the carpet up to midfielders and forwards.

All of those passing stats I listed for Saliba are either 90th percentile or well above for center backs in League Un. He is, without question, a cultured passing CB.

However, the modern CB now also needs to be able to carry the ball and carry the ball forward (oh yeah, and defend too). And for William Saliba, it was his progressive carries and dribbles stats which were actually ridiculous. Again, these stats are from

  1. Led the League in progressive distance carried (per90 and of course also overall)
  2. Led in carries and distance carried (overall yards) but since he played 36 matches, was only 2nd in per90 to Verratti
  3. Averaged 6.75 progressive carries per90, more than twice as many as Ben White and Virgil van Dijk

Two negative things stand out, however, when looking at the stats.

The first is that Saliba makes a lot of passes into opposition interceptions or blocks (passing straight to the other team or the opponents step in and block the ball away). This happens on average twice a game. Now, that’s comparable to Ben White but in Saliba’s defense, he’s making almost making twice as many progressive passes as White and more final third and penalty area passes. But, it’s definitely something to watch out for in terms of your expectations: Saliba tries riskier passes and while he’s incredibly accurate at them, they don’t always come off.

The same applies to Saliba’s carries. The equivalent negative stat to passing into interceptions is “dispossessed” and there’s also “loss of possession (due to bad touch).” Saliba was dispossessed or miscontrolled almost 1 time per90 last season. That’s often frustrating to watch as a supporter because our expectations for CBs is that they NEVER get caught dribbling or carrying the ball: for many of us who are older or have watched the game for 20+ years we have been conditioned to believe that carrying the ball is “not their job”. But Saliba was making 70 carries per90 for Marseille last season. That’s 27 more carries per90 than Ben White, more than twice as many progressive carries per90, with a progressive distance of almost 100 yards more per90.

So, in my mind, it’s a trade off with Saliba. You’re buying a ton of attacking yards in terms of carries and passes and the price is that the CB will occasionally make a bad forward pass or get caught in possession.

These data points all pass the “eye test”. I watched Saliba play for Marseille last season and frankly his passing range and ability to carry the ball forward was almost absurd to watch. He’s no Messi or anything but he’s a very smooth and confident dribbler and his passes are almost always inch perfect.

That said, he did occasionally (twice a game or so) make a really bad pass or lose possession and it stands out when he does. Because whenever a center back makes a mistake, that mistake is exacerbated by the fact that he’s one of two or three defenders left to cover for his mistake.

That said, Marseille didn’t play with a CDM the way that Arsenal do with Partey or Xhaka. Kamara is a good player but he doesn’t dictate the tempo of the games the way that Partey does. Marseille’s midfield game was much more dependent on the chaos of Guendouzi popping up in weird places and overloading spaces, or of Payet and Under causing mayhem in the final third, than the more methodical approach of Arteta’s Arsenal (last season). Marseille played with a back three often (or a sort of back three) and let William Saliba dictate the game from the back, whereas Arsenal’s best games were more controlled, with Ben White or Gabriel passing the ball to Partey to play us forward. That didn’t mean that they always played that way, just that there was much more of a short focal point at Arsenal, while Marseille was much more open from the back.

Defensively Saliba is very good if also a bit raw. He made a spectacular game-saving tackle on Mbappe in their first match with PSG and I’ve also seen him give up possession in a frustrating position and then lunge in to try to recover – only to get a yellow card.

The good news is that in the last year, though, he’s gotten much calmer in defensive situations. I think he reads the game well and doesn’t try to step in to make a tackle until he’s clear to do so.

Of course that’s all playing for a team in France. British referees are very different and the attacking play he will face in England is probably at a higher level (overall) than France. This isn’t a knock on the French league (which is chock full of great players – many of whom make the jump to England), it’s a description of the reality that the best players in the world aggregate to England right now because that’s where the money is and so Saliba will be tested more often than he was in France.

Overall, I feel like Saliba is more than ready for the Premier League and Arsenal will be very happy with the player they bought two years ago.

For a comparison of Saliba, Ben White, and Virgil van Dijk, see this link on


*This is only sort of a joke. I was at the League cup final where we lost to Birmingham City because Zigic won a header over the Arsenal CBs and I remember how many Arsenal fans complained in the weeks following that Wenger hadn’t bought Christopher Samba. I also can’t remember much about the way Adams, Campbell, or Toure passed the ball. I have to admit, I wasn’t that attuned to them in terms of their attacking play. Which isn’t to say that they were just guys lumping it out the back: rather that their passing wasn’t something I’d noticed.


  1. i watched about a dozen or so marseille games last season and, like you, i love the kid. he’s very accomplished for such a young player. he’s what i would call a natural defender with better than decent speed, size, and power. he’s not the quickest and still a bit rough around the edges compared to ben white but we have to remember that he’s still only 21-years old whereas ben white will be 25 in a couple of months.

    unlike most, i’m glad he had the experience of playing for marseille last season; rather him play abroad than sit on the arsenal bench. my fear was that he wouldn’t trust the way arsenal had mismanaged him. the fact that he didn’t play in the fall of 2020 was disgraceful and i was uncertain he trusted arteta to manage his career well. fortunately for arsenal, he’s just signed a contract extension.

    i was equally concerned when arsenal spent £55 million on a player who’s only slightly better than one we already had on the books. when a club spend that much money for a coach to get “his guy”, he’s expected to feature regularly, not some 20-year old kid that arteta inherited.

    at this point, he’s behind ben white but only just. because he’s so young, he’ll make some mistakes but his potential ceiling suggests he could be world class. let’s see.

    1. I agree with all this (cue the Arteta apologists) and would only add that based on the data I have (games watched and stats) I would say that Saliba was as ready as Ben White was to play for Arsenal last year.

    2. Josh- remind me of what was disgraceful about him not playing in ’20? I remember being surprised and confused like everyone else, but was there some specific event that was so awful? If he has signed a new contract, he’s playing, and he’s happy, then isn’t it possible that the loans were the right moves? That the player wasn’t ready/wasn’t going to get the minutes and Edu and Arteta wanted him to mature and develop? That the long term interests were prioritized over the short term needs? That a young kid, who’s a little immature, whose game is still a bit raw, with recent family trauma, might struggle in England? Maybe I’ve forgotten some aspect of this, but the “We mismanaged Saliba” narrative that was so prevalent might have been an overreaction and misreading of the situation.

      1. in fall 2020, arsenal didn’t register saliba and they didn’t allow him to go out on loan. he sat on his backside from may until january. i don’t think the club did that with bad intentions. however, you can’t afford to make that kind of mistake. it’s inexcusable.

  2. Having watched him a lot, Saliba is an exceptional young footballer. If you watch this game long enough, you know it when you see it. He’s got a lot of competition, but already he looks a standout prospect for his country, which is rich in defensive and offensive talent.

    He’s near impassable 1 on 1, and he’s got great foot speed to catch forwards on OTT counters of our high line. As you reported from Orlando, we play a (sometime suicidal) high line in Arteta’s system.

    I’m glad he’s getting a chance in pre-season, let alone full season. That was the knock on the management. We shipped him out without giving him a chance — even in pre-season — to show us what he can do. Sometimes all a player can ask for is a fair shot… not a guarantee. Looks like he’ll finally get that. And every single time he went somewhere he was one of their best players, even for half a season at Nice. Hilarious to see people spin that oversight as some sort of genius move, when it has reeked of unfairness. But here we are.

    The reaction is going to be interesting when he makes his first error that leads to a goal, as he will. Some gooners want a chance to say “told you so”. That’s where we are as a fan base… in camps.

    So Im resisting comparisons to White, because it’s unfair on White. He didnt buy himself. We bought him. He didnt set his price. Brighton did. We are lucky to have 2 good young CBs, and they’ll both be needed. When everyone is fit and available, we will have a nice problem. Both are positionally versatile, which could mean that we see less of Cedric if Tomi continues to have fitness issues.

    That said, Im seeing a lot of talk that a back line of White-Willo-G6-Zinny will get the bulk of the start minutes. Interesting.

      1. With 5 subs, different formations and multiple combinations of players are going to be the norm. Having both White and Saliba will really give us flexibility. They looked great together (albeit against Orlando). A really solid back 4 might allow us to play more offensive-minded (read less defensively skilled) 8’s like ESR, Viera, Zin.

  3. Additional to the upsides you mention the overall backline of strong athletes should make playing a high defensive line and keeping possession in the opponent’s half. Both City and ‘Pool rely on exceptional DM work to screen defence and recycle possession. The final ingredient of this transfer window for me is finding a suitable understudy / replacement for Partey.

  4. The footnote about the CBs of old just reminded me of Sol Campbell being dispossesed against Middlesbrough, who scored from the error. Thankfully we won 2-1.

    Saliba is ready. He could’ve been playing for Arsenal last season and been more ready. With a better midfield in front of him for the 50m+ we spent on his replacement. But glad he’s going to get a chance now. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets made a scapegoat for any mistakes though. I don’t think he’s one of Mikel’s guys. And I’m still surprised to hear he’s signed a new contract. I haven’t seen it reported elsewhere but if all is well now then it makes perfect sense. Long may he remain and grow at Arsenal.

    1. Shard
      Saliba already signing a contract is a fast forward on a speculation he will sign on Le Groan by le Padronne.
      His interviews of 1 month back point out that it will be fortuitous if he signs. Saliba is here to “ show you sceptics “

  5. I don’t claim to know much at all about tactics. But with ball playing CBs being all the rage I hope we can see something akin to Wenger’s verticality. We have a team who could play that way..indeed the high line you talked about reminded me of the ‘good ol days’. So we already get some of it…minus the upside.

    All this playing through the wings is not the most exciting football for me. I’ll even come around on Odegaard and join Claude in talking him up if he can be the centrepiece of such a revival.

    Anyway. I know I keep saying this but I am excited about the season. We have talent in the squad and I reckon this has to be the season the manager finds his feet and gets out of his own way.

    1. We are actually playing more vertical so far this season. We also seem to be playing throughballs (which were the hallmark of the 2007-12 Arsenal teams) and we are certainly playing higher up the pitch. It remains to be seen if we continue this way but I have to admit that it’s the way I’d prefer us to play.

  6. Thanks for the post Tim. I hope Saliba can play as well in England as he did in France last season. Mistakes by your center back tend to get punished in any league but as you point out playing in England can be difficult and there are plenty of players who have looked fabulous in France only to struggle when they come to England. Given the amount of money we spent and the level of production he showed and the expectations we had I would argue that Pepe has been one of the the single biggest busts for Arsenal in this century. Gervinho is not far behind. Laca was not a bust of the same caliber as Pepe and Gervinho but he certainly did not come anywhere close to matching the production he had in France. I am not suggesting that Saliba will struggle but there certainly is reason suggest that statistical production in France can in some cases over rate a players ability to produce when he plays in England.

    I agree with Josh that not registering Saliba in 2020 is had to explain. I also agree with Josh that I don’t believe for a second the club did it with bad intentions. Someone in our front office may have screwed up and we will probably never know exactly what happened. However, I also completely agree with Lagunner’s comment at 8:50am. Ignoring the mistake with registration its seems like the sending Saliba on loan and letting him mature and develop and make mistakes of youth in France has worked quite well for the player and hopefully it will work out well for the club. The people in our front office back in 2020 who watched him in training every day back and actually spoke with him believed that he probably was not ready to play regular minutes in England at age 19 or 20. They were certainly in a much better position to make that call then any of us and what they did seems logical to me. Its easy to say in retrospect that he may have been able to help us last season but the focus of our front office is clearly what is best in the long term for the player and for the club club and it certainly seems like the extra year in France did him a lot of good for his confidence. I think it was much better for the long term to bring him back 1 year too late rather then 1 year too early.

  7. I remember several commenters used what happened with Saliba indicated Arteta was some sort of narcissistic egomaniac who just did not like the Saliba and made decisions that were bad for the club based on petty jealousies and he mistreated Saliba because he did not like him. I remember a lot of comments that it would not be long before our dressing room rebelled because of the way the club was treating players and Arteta was to stubborn ever let Saliba play for Arsenal. Guendouzi was going to tell Saliba to stay away at all costs and Saliba would never come back because of the way he had been treated.

    I think its safe to say in retrospect that sort of negative speculation was clearly misguided. I have never suggested management is infallible and has never makes mistakes but a lot of the criticism over the last couple years has been over the top and I suspect it was at least partly based on confirmation bias when we were looking for reasons to dislike management.

    1. HEY! I said all of those things!

      Congratulations on your victory over the forces of darkness and stupidity, Bill.

      1. Thanks for the informative and enjoyable post. I’m looking forward to seeing Saliba, as I have been for 2 years. Most of the rest of that story is noise and nonsense.

        Tim, you just referred to some of your regulars offhandedly as “Arteta apologists”.

        You call someone an apologist when they are defending something you find indefensible or unacceptable.

        It’s a throwaway phrase but it says a lot about how you feel, both about the manager and anyone not on board with your opinion of him. This is OK. I feel like this information will save us a lot of time.

        I just want to recognise that it’s those who have a problem with Arteta who make it all about him, not the other way round. I would much rather talk about and enjoy the football.

        Hope you get to do that this season too.

        1. Greg, thanks for the sanctimonious and condescending comment.

          I have been clear how I feel about this manager. He started out very poor. He got better a bit in the second year and in the third year he had a great start and fell off when he didn’t have his best 11. I want the club to do well and when it’s not doing well (and you really can’t tell me the first two seasons under Arteta were doing well at all) and when we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars that we cannot afford to pay players to go play for another team (which we have done), then I think it’s pretty reasonable for people to get frustrated with what’s going on.

          An “apologist” is someone who pretends that either none of the first stuff happened or that it was all part of some giant brain plan. Those people exist and they jump on here or on twitter with their nonsense about “the arteta haters” or whatever.

          As for my enjoyment of football. I do enjoy the football, except when I don’t. I tend to enjoy it rather more than not. But I’m always honest about what I feel. That is sort of the point of anyone writing: to tell you what they honestly feel. I told you honestly what my expectations were and that they were met last season. I’m one of the few people who WEREN’T disappointed by the fact we finished 5th and wrote honestly about that even though I’m pretty sure most people wanted to hear the same old tosh about how much of a letdown it was. I was actually quite positive about Arteta and the way that we played last season.

          So, it really gets under my skin that what you’re doing here is taking the moments that I didn’t enjoy what was going on (which were mostly few and far between last season) and amplifying them to represent my entire view of the club and the manager with your patronizing and condescending “hope you get to do that this season too”.

          What a sanctimonious load of shit. If the football is good, I’ll enjoy it. If the club stops dragging its own name through the mud (like with the layoffs and bogus paycut and leaking stuff about players COVID testing), I’ll enjoy the club. That’s it. That’s the whole deal. I don’t enjoy watching my team struggle and make a ton of stupid moves (Kolasinac? Ozil’s extension? Auba’s extension? Willian? David Luiz? the way we handled Saliba? The paycuts? etc. etc.). That pisses me off and I happen to have a platform to say it when it pisses me off.

          There’s a phrase that Arteta is going to say in the new docudrama on Amazon which I deeply agree with: you have to decide whether you like the journey or the destination. If you take a taxi and the driver is nuts and nearly wrecks the cab but you get to the destination on time, which is the more important part? The journey or the result? I believe Arteta and I agree, it’s the journey. I’d rather miss my plane and see something incredible than get to the airport on time and be utterly stressed out by the journey. That’s why I talk about expectations all the time and why I think it’s so much more important to manage your expectations.

          In hindsight, I guess I failed to manage my expectations WRT Arteta’s first two seasons, I can see that and if anyone wants to have a conversation about that without resorting to being a dick and gloating about their “victory”, I’m into it. But whatever criticism you want to level at me, you can’t say I failed to observe the journey, both the good stuff and the bad stuff.

          As for you, I hope that you get to enjoy being a sanctimonious prick this season. Sounds like you’re already off to a good head start.

          1. As an intermittent reader of your blog for a long time (who knows, maybe a decade?) this is one of my favorite posts I’ve read (your comment here – although the blog post is good). Very astute and honest and funny. You do your best to call it as you see it. My own style might be a bit softer (and a bit lass ad hominem) but I don’t have a blog and it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as yours if I did. I look forward to reading you during what figures to be an exciting and fascinating season. Thanks.

    2. Bill,

      Considering there’s a new season around the corner and the general sentiment is fairly upbeat do you think we can have a moratorium on pointing out each post that everyone else is wrong?

      1. There are thousands of twitter accounts dedicated to this type of polemical writing. I usually just block them.

        1. Critical yes, but polemic? You couldn’t be more wrong.

          If your view of courteous public discourse is through the twitter lens of judgmental, conceited intolerance then there’s your problem.

          Let’s cut to the chase. I’ve enjoyed reading you and interactions with yourself and fellow posters. But increasingly you’re lashing out unreasonably at posters.

          Your comment to Greg was unacceptable. I don’t care if it’s your blog. Lead by example.

          I don’t tolerate abuse or abusers and want no further part here. Just add me to the ever growing list of fans that quit on 7am.


          1. First, I wasn’t calling your post a polemic. I was referring to the post above.

            Second, I appreciate the perspective. Greg really got my goat and I have a temper at times. I couldn’t stand having someone talk down to me the way he was. It was and is bullshit. I probably could have handled it better.

            Sorry to see you go.

  8. For all we know Saliba might have had a family or other issue and he asked for sone time off which is why he was not registered and the club did everything possible to protect his privacy.

    1. You’re infuriating, dude.

      Saliba literally complained publicly about the fact that he wasn’t playing when we failed to register him.

      1. Fair enough. Not registering him was probably a mistake but the reality is none of us really have any idea why it happened. The whole point I was making is a lot of the criticism that of Arteta was over the top. Some of our regulars were calling him a narcissistic dictator who dislike any player with big personality because they offended his gigantic ego, and he threw out Saliba with the trash and would never let him come back. That stuff was utterly ridiculous

        1. I was one who was convinced he had thrown Saliba away. And given the way that he treated Ozil, Auba, Guendouzi, and Saliba I don’t think it was unreasonable to conclude that this was how the man operates.

        2. Bill
          If “ none of us know what happened “ why is it assumed that it was not Don Quixote’s compulsive obsession on non- negotiable ( whatever , that bullshit might mean), responsible for the cock-up ?
          Yeah, ,why only Arteta has benefit of doubt ?
          Let us be fair and distribute the benefit of doubt both ways

    2. “For all we know”.

      For all we know, Tim Todd is actually Elvis Presley and you are Bob Dylan 🙂

      My dude, it’s one thing to always put a positive gloss on every fumble the club makes. It’s another thing entirely to speculatively make up something helpful to your narrative.

  9. Saliba was ready last year, however Arteta gambled on sending him out on loan for the entire year without possibilty of recalling him, and White was seriously compromised in the last 5 games, sure could have used him!

    Does not matter where we are playing Thursday nights, would have been preferable to be playing in CL, do not care what anyone says, am over the Europa, even though we have yet to win it!

    Like Tim stated, love me some vertical futbol and a highline, want to see us squeeze space and time and get some more goals, all the while conceding less, and I think we shall do so this year.

  10. I wasn’t a fan of the oft-cited Gervinho, but I want to stick up for the poor fella, who’s become a whipping boy for Ligue 1 by proxy.

    Koscielny, Sagna, Clichy, Anelka, Adebayor, Petit and Nasri — among other successes — also came to us from France. Im excluding Vieira and Henry, because we didnt recruit them directly from their home league. Nevertheless, that is where they learned their football trade. Im also excluding Cantona, Drogba, Yaya Toure, N’golo Kante, United Silvestre and other too numerous to mention, who were recruited from France and graced the premier league for other clubs. Arteta came to Arsenal via PSG, Rangers and Everton. Fofana, who played with Saliba, has done well at Leicester.

    There WERE duds, like Chamakh, and Pepe (we can admit that at this point). But the EPL — and stronger leagues at the time — found Ligue 1 to be rich in pickings over the years

    1. To be fair I think Chamakh had a good spell too before running out of steam (or confidence when rvp returned from injury or something)

    2. you can add Hazard to your list!Came straight from Lille where he played for his entire top footballer life until then.

  11. zinchenko with the start? wtf? i’m not a fan at lb; was thinking xhaka replacement. i hope he changes my mind.

  12. Well,

    That was just fantastic!
    Everything one could wish for, press, attack and finish.

    Solid preparation for Palace!

  13. If you think that that was a meaningless game, watch Thomas Tuchel’s agitation, and read his post match comments. We looked sooooo good and fluid. We played as a team, a point that the Chelsea manager noted.

    Granit was immense. On a day that Edu suggested that we have plenty in midfield already, and said that we’re not after Paqueta.

    I can’t wait to see G9 in the epl this coming season. And oh, we had the back line that many predicted. But we’ll see.

  14. Chelsea looked like we looked for so many years vs Man City. Completely overmatched. For so much of the first half they couldn’t string together 3 passes. We looked composed, methodical and ferocious. G9 is a whirlwind of disruption. Saliba bosses the pitch. Something exciting happening here.

  15. Tim, I’ve read the same story you reference early in this post. I can’t recall the author either! But that story remains with me like something fanciful I saw from the car window while my family drove along, probably lost, along some dirt roads during a summer vacation in 1982. Borges maybe. I prefer to blame my cat when I can’t find the thing I’m looking for. My wife wrinkles her forehead and laughs. He’s been dead 5 years, but I still keep blaming him.

  16. Claude @ 12:30. Just about that whole list of players you mentioned in your comment came to the league 15-20 years ago. European football has changed a lot since then. The list of players we have brought over in more then a decade since Kos has been Chamakh, Gervinho Giroud Sanogo Laca and Pepe. There might be some differences of opinion about Giroud but it’s safe to say the production all of those players had while playing in France over rated what they would produce when they came to England.

    1. And Gervinho was recently? 😊

      Look, I kind of knew you’d… er… “refine” your argument to “but look how long ago that was”, when what you’ve been trying to argue is that Ligue 1 is shit. You need a balanced scorecard, Bill. You serve the same gumbo in different plates over and over and over again. We’ve had good and bad players from that league. Some of the CURRENTLY best young midfielders in the world, such as Aurelian Tchouameni, play in or have been purchased from Ligue 1.

      Serve us something new. Like, you know, who caught your eye in the game we just played. A lot of people who watched it thought that a certain Ligue 1 product was MOTM.

    2. the ligue 1 players narrative coming to england was probably one that i created (i know, drama) but my perspective was specifically directed at strikers maintaining their goal-scoring rate. giroud is probably the only one that came with a bit of fanfare that was able to maintain his rate. adebayor came with less fan fare but actually improved compared to his time in france. so did anelka but he could only improve.

      as for arsenal’s record with defenders, it’s inconclusive. arsenal signed a few players who were simply past their best. wenger always wanted squillaci and he was brilliant at lyon when they won 8 straight ligue 1 campaigns, but it didn’t make sense as kolo toure ascended. pascal cygan got a bad rap but was a really good defender; the high line arsenal played simply didn’t suit him (like pablo mari). grimandi was decent but lauren was just better. clichy was a prodigy wenger snuck through the back door when he was injured and most had forgotten about him. most agree bacary sagna was an excellent signing. if you had seen william saliba over the past year or even last night and heard the way the fans were singing his name, this would be a bit clearer for you.

      speaking of saliba, if he hasn’t extended his contract at arsenal, we’ll see what happens moving forward, as the cat’s out of the bag now. he’s class and very young. he’ll have suitors. we’ll see if he trusts arteta or, at least, loves the club that much.

  17. I didn’t get to watch the game but it sounds like we thrashed Chelsea. Bringing in several hundred million dollars worth of new players in the last couple years seems to have helped improve our ability to execute the game plans effectively.

    1. Jayke, that was the most uplifting video I have seen all year. Also delighted to hear there is some jealousy at the G9 signing. Thank you for posting! 🙏 🙏🙏

  18. Objectively, the EPL is a better league than L1. One measure of that is Champions League progression. But money plays a part in that. L1 is a net exporter of talent… as soon as they break through, they’re hoovered up by a big club in Spain or England, and sometimes Italy. Financially doped PSG is trying to buck that trend. And however you think they did it, their keeping Mbappe from moving to Madrid would not have been possible previously.

    The Arsenal scouts did an outstanding job identifying Saliba when they did, and enabling us to buy him for what we did. I hear the argument that he’s better off developing elsewhere than sitting on Arsenal’s bench. But who’s to say that that is where he’d have spent his time, if given an opportunity to show what he’s got?

    And that is the key argument… opportunity. He hasnt been given one by Arsenal till now. It is almost as if he embarrassed them into doing so. Seven months of no competitive football because of some supposed “front office mistake?” No, it’s unheard of. And it could have seriously derailed a young player of a weaker mind. Then, when he did get a chance that January, he killed it at Nice. What did Arsenal do? Ship him out again, without even a pre-season opportunity.

    Opportunity opportunity opportunity. Until a player is given one, we don’t know and can’t say how things would have panned out at his club. But we do have some facts to consider. One, the big screw up that led to a player being parked between May and January. Two, the broken promise that he’d get his opportunity after Nice. Three, and most importantly, him smashing it every opportunity he’s been given.

    To me the “Arteta is evil and had it in for him” framing is reductive, and an intentional oversimplification of the issue that avoids looking at the available facts of the matter. I think that Shard’s read is a good one. The club f***** him around, but it looks as if all parties landed on their feet. He hasnt been given opportunities at Arsenal. That year at Marseilles has turbocharged him. Both of those things can be true at once.

    1. i do wonder if the arsenal scouts recruited saliba or if it was unai emery. i always assumed it was emery who wanted both guendouzi and saliba simply from his time in france. guendouzi was at psg but left to get playing time while saliba could have been a psg target. who knows? it’s speculative but i just always felt they were more emery signings than a product of arsenal scouting.

      1. Plausible. They were both good spots, Emery or not. Really good young footballers, and in my estimation, future mainstays for France.

        Gooners who don’t watch French football won’t recognise the offensive player that is Guendouzi. An already decent player for us (but who had little or no offensive output) has added 80% to his game. He’s still a bit of a lippy so and so on the field, though, but fatherhood seems to have removed some of his chippiness.

  19. Maybe after the GS9 signing the club had a “come to Jesus” discussion with Saliba? Well done if so.

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