Martin Keown plays down William Gallas’ concerns over William Saliba ahead of north London derby. Arsenal legend Martin Keown has played down William Gallas’ concerns over William Saliba ahead of the north London derby on Saturday.
Saliba has impressed for the Gunners so far this term, helping Mikel Arteta’s side climb to the top of the Premier League table after their opening seven games.
The 21-year-old French centre-back joined Arsenal in 2019 but had to wait three years to make his debut as the Gunners beat Crystal Palace on the opening day.
He spent last season out on loan at Marseille, helping them to a runner-up finish in the French top-flight and was named Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year.
But fellow Frenchman and ex-Gunner Gallas recently expressed concern over Saliba due to the fact he does not have a senior defensive partner to learn from.
Martin Keown plays down William Gallas’ concerns over William Saliba ahead of north London derby. Saliba has been in a defensive partnership with 24-year-old Brazilian Gabriel Magalhaes for Arsenal’s opening seven games.
‘He’s still young and at this age you need to learn and you need to have the right players next to you,’ Gallas told Genting Casino about Saliba.
‘It’s very important when you play centre-back, you need to have experienced players you can learn from.
‘At the moment Saliba doesn’t have anyone. When I talk about experienced players, I’m talking about top-class defenders. That’s why I’m a little bit worried for him.’
Keown, though, does not feel it is an issue for Saliba when he was quizzed about Gallas’ comments.
‘Of course you want senior players around, but Saliba seems very measured and a very calm individual,’ Keown said.
‘I know he was taken off at half-time [during France’s 2-0 defeat to Denmark on Sunday] but I don’t believe that was really his fault.
‘Arsenal have got themselves an outstanding player here. He’s very good in a one-vs-one, he’s quick, he’s powerful and he’s going to need to be [against Spurs].
Bad to WORSE for Arsenal… RED CARD 🟥
Rob Holding catches Son and gets a second yellow! pic.twitter.com/Y0j6VHvPfd
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 12, 2022
‘If you think about Son Heung-min, you could say he got Rob Holding sent off last season.
‘I think it’s a nice little partnership [between Saliba and Gabriel] and why can’t Saliba be the leader?
‘This is a partnership that will be there for a number of years if they get it right. It’s difficult for Ben White, who’s been shoved out to right-back.
‘But he’s responded well and is also playing well. At times it can work as a back three. But I think Saliba, he will have to have an outstanding game if Arsenal are to win this game on Saturday.’