Arsenal secured a 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace on Monday night, keeping their first clean sheet of the 2023-24 Premier League campaign following a 2-1 win against Nottingham Forest on the opening weekend of the season.
The Gunners were made to play the last 23 minutes of regular time with ten men after Takehiro Tomiyasu was sent off after a second yellow card, but the visitors held on and kept the Palace forwards at bay.
BBC pundit Garth Crooks has praised France international centre-back William Saliba for the key role he played in shutting the Eagles out.
“Saliba missed the back end of last season and it arguably cost Arsenal the title,” he wrote in his Team of the Week pundit.
“Now he is back in the Arsenal line-up and they look like a team capable of keeping clean sheets again.
“This was an important victory for the Gunners away at Crystal Palace. Six points in their two opening games keeps the pressure on Manchester City and sends a message to the rest of the league that they are up for the battle once again this season.
“The home side made life very difficult for the visitors, but they couldn’t penetrate Arsenal’s defensive backline even when the visitors went down to 10 men, and that was largely due to the presence of Saliba.”
The 22-year-old joined the Gunners from Saint-Etienne in 2019 for £27 million and went out on three loan spells before returning to establish himself in Mikel Arteta’s starting XI ahead of 2022-23.
He won 100% of his aerial duels (2/2), made the most clearances (eight), made the most interceptions (two), made three ball recoveries, completed four long balls, had the most touches (80) and recorded 92% passing accuracy after completing 58 passes last night.
Saliba missed the last 11 Premier League games of last season due to a back injury, and Arsenal could only win five of those games, eventually finishing behind Man City in the table as a result.
He has returned to action this term and led them to back-to-back wins, and the Gunners could be mounting a stronger title challenge this term if he manages to remain fit all season.