Emmanuel Petit has been full of praise of Arsenal & France’s William Saliba, citing the defender’s need to ‘prove something’ to Milkel Arteta as a key reason behind his recent form.
Saliba was signed by the Gunners in 2019 following a breakthrough campaign at St. Etienne, but was shipped out on loan by to Ligue 1 sides for his first few seasons on the Arsenal books. Many fans expected the centre-back to be a key player in Arteta’s defence last campaign, but he was surprisingly sent out on loan to Marseille – and won the Ligue 1 young player of the year award for his performances there.
Now finally back at Arsenal and being given regular minutes, Saliba has become one of the best defenders in the Premier League and has been crucial to his club’s table-topping form.
Speaking about Saliba to LiveScore, former Arsenal midfielder Petit said: “Well, he’s confirmed all the good things we’ve seen from him last season with Marseille. He has shown so much maturity.
“Three years after he signed for Arsenal, I think he came back with a feeling of revenge as well, he wanted to prove something to everyone, especially to Arteta. And I think it’s playing very well. He’s like a rock. I like his reading of the game. You know, behind defense is very good as well with fighting the ball. And he plays with confidence and technically as well. He has no problem you know, to play the first ball from behind.
“Impressed, yes. Because he had to confirm all the good things we’ve seen of him last season with Marseille and, with all due respect I have for Marseille, Arsenal is a step up. So he’s doing the same thing and he’s playing very well. I think he’s becoming a rock in this defense, actually he is one of the best defenders in England for sure. And for me, he represents the future of Arsenal and the national team.”
Petit took the time to preview France’s World Cup too, and discussed ways in which Les Bleus can cope without the injured Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante: “Everyone has got their own opinion about it and I think that France changed formation, [Didier] Deschamps said it publicly, because of what Didier learned from Aymé Jacquet in 1998, when we received so much criticism saying we were winning games.
“Some people were not convinced, they wanted us to play romantic football and when you look at the way they won the World Cup in 2018, after the game against this South American team, Peru, Deschamps changed the tactics. He put Matuidi on the left hand side so I presumed that we’ll forget the 3-5-2, he will play either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, maybe sometimes in 4-4-2 but I’m pretty sure that they will play with with three midfield players in this tournament too.
“I’m sure he’s going to play with Tchouaméni, Fofana and Rabiot, I think Rabiot is going have the role Matuidi had in 2018. So I presume, maybe I’m wrong, but, I think that’s the system Deschamps is going to choose with the players in.
The World Cup winner also took take to discuss a study LiveScore have conducted on the top 20 places where football fans have checked scores. When asked if he could name five of these, Petit replied: “Mountains! Climbing a mountain, you know, Mount Everest…Maybe a wedding…A birthday…A first date…I will say probably in the toilets, because this is what I do as well…and one more…I’ll say at work, because I do the same things!
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