Journalist Charles Watts has hinted that Arsenal star William Saliba’s potential injury concern could be nothing to be worried about.
What happened to Saliba in Arsenal’s defeat?
Arsenal were eliminated from the Europa League on penalties by Sporting CP at the Emirates Stadium, with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Saliba both exiting the match early with injuries in what was a nightmare scenario for Mikel Arteta.
However, Arsenal may have been handed a boost, as it seems Saliba’s injury is not a serious one.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Watts shared that the defender was seen walking normally as he departed the stadium after the defeat, having initially limped off the pitch.
He said: “Saliba did go through [the mixed zone] as well and Simon [Collings] said he looked okay; he looked perfectly fine as he walked off. There weren’t crutches like Tomiyasu or anything, he just walked through normally. So that’s potentially a good sign.
“Hopefully it was more of a precaution thing with Saliba. It seemed like he was holding his back a little bit, so maybe he had a little bit of a twinge and Arsenal didn’t want to take any risks and he couldn’t continue and hopefully he’s fit, I think that’s the crucial one.”
How important is Saliba to Arsenal?
The 21-year-old finally made his debut for the club this season, over three years since his arrival and following a number of loan spells – and he has slotted in seamlessly.
Arsenal have been sensational all season as they find themselves top of the Premier League, and the centre-back is a big reason behind their incredible performances this campaign.
His ability on the ball makes him stand out as a defender, as he ranks in the top 6% of centre-backs for passes across Europe’s top competitions as per FBref, and he has started every single Premier League game this season.
He has formed a solid partnership with Gabriel at the back and Arsenal have conceded just 25 goals this season – a record only bettered by Newcastle United.
Arteta praised the pair, hailing the defenders’ consistency and that they “make each other better”.
Saliba’s impact on this Arsenal side has therefore been transformative and he has already established himself as one of the most important figures in the side. If he was to face a spell on the sidelines, Arsenal’s hunt for the title could be in jeopardy, so Watts’ update is likely to be a huge source of relief for the club.