‘I’ve waited a long time!’ – ‘Superb’ Saliba shines in long-awaited Arsenal debut

The French centre-backput in a strong performance as his side ran out 2-0 winners against Crystal Palace

Arsenal defender William Saliba put in an impressive performance in his first senior appearance for the club and he admits he has waited a long time for his chance to shine in the Premier League. Saliba was one of the standout performers as Arsenal started the 2022-23 season with a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace on Friday evening.

Saliba joined the Gunners in 2019 but had to embark on loan spells at Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille before earning the trust of coach Mikel Arteta and being welcomed into the fold this season.

Saliba started in the Arsenal starting XI alongside Gabriel in the heart of the defence at Selhurst Park.

It was his maiden first-team display for the north London side and he was happy to finally get his chance.

He said to Sky Sports: “We knew it would be hard here but we were strong and solid.

This man tonight. What a debut. pic.twitter.com/aRHZ8e2xZe

“I’ve waited a long time to make my debut and I’m happy to start with a clean sheet and a win.

“It’s important for confidence.”

The 21-year-old, who was a key figure for Marseille in Ligue 1 last season before moving back to England, made quite an impression on his manager with his performance against Palace.

The Spanish coach said of him: “Saliba was superb tonight. The way we started the game and played in the first half hour was superb – we should have scored more.

“We had to play the game in ways we didn’t want to as it went on because Palace are able to do that to you. To win here, you need to suffer – we’ve done it and that’s part of the mentality we want to build, to come to places like this and win.”

He added during his post-match press conference: “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.”