William Saliba caught the eye and was a standout name as Arsenal secured an opening day 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Friday night.
Given the opening events of last season, an opening day win was just what the doctor ordered and Mikel Arteta would have been pleased with the manner of his side’s victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
New signings Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko were named in the Gunners starting lineup, as they looked to build on their impressive form from pre-season. Another Gabriel in Martinelli looked to make an impression and should have put Arsenal ahead early on but fluffed his lines. The Brazilian then made up for his earlier miss by finishing off a routine corner to grab his first headed Premier League goal and the first of the 2022/2023 season. His goal also came courtesy of a debut assist from Zinchenko.
Bukayo Saka wrapped things up late on with a deflected cross that found the back of the net. Arsenal looked slick, solid and silky as they wrapped up their first three points in a season that they hope will end in Champions League football. Palace did threaten at several occasions in the game but thanks to Aaron Ramsdale making several brilliant stops to keep his side in the game.
Last but not the least, William Saliba barely out in a wrong foot and his Premier League debut has many fans dreaming about what is to come from the Frenchman.
THE LATEST: SALIBA’S MAN OF THE MATCH PERFORMANCE
It is only early days but Saliba has started to answer questions asked of him. The Frenchman put in a man-of-the-match performance to help the Gunners keep a rare clean sheet against Palace. In a stellar outing at Selhurst Park, Saliba posted good numbers, boasting 100% take-ons completed, 100% aerial duels won, 94% pass accuracy, 49 passes, 7 ball recoveries, 6 passes into final third, 6 clearances and 3 duels won. It was also impressive that he committed zero fouls as well.
For a man who was only making his debut, he looked so composed in defence alongside Gabriel Magalhaes and made several tackles that showed he would naturally be tough to beat.
Arsenal did not exactly blow their opponents away but they did just enough to take all three points against a difficult side to beat at a difficult venue. Palace have been something of a boogey team for Arsenal but there was nothing of such this time around.
Arsenal’s debutants in Jesus and Zinchenko all impressed with brilliant outings. For the former, all that was missing was a goal to crown his efforts. He completed six take-ons in that game alone and already showed how he could offer a different dimension to Arsenal upfront.
The brightest spot of the night was William Saliba though. After a blistering debut, there is a question of whether he will remain a first team player or if he’ll get dropped when Takehiro Tomiyasu returns to full fitness. Mikel Arteta has a tough decision on his hands in that regard and only time will tell how he handles that one.
Arsenal will now look to make it two wins from two when they take on Leicester City next Saturday.