Jamie Carragher praises William Saliba and compares him with Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk
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William Saliba’s fine start to the season at Arsenal has resulted in former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher singing his praises.
Having spent the previous two seasons on loan in Ligue 1, Saliba returned to Arsenal this summer with a point to prove as he looked to impress Mikel Arteta in order to kickstart his Gunners career.
After a promising pre-season, Saliba earned a spot at the heart of Arsenal’s defence for their first Premier League match of the campaign and he hasn’t looked back since.
A string of impressive performances followed as Arteta’s side currently sit top of the league table with 24 points.
Carragher said: “At Arsenal, the integration of William Saliba and the signing of Gabriel Jesus have elevated the team’s performances to a point where they look like a top-four team again.”
The former England centre-back then compared Saliba to Liverpool star man, Virgil van Dijk.
Carragher continued: “Saliba is a modern centre-back in the Van Dijk mould. He is fast enough to deal with the quickest strikers, aerially strong to cope with target men, and comfortable in possession to ensure his side can play from the back.
“Yes, these are early days and Saliba has a long way to go to match Van Dijk’s long-term influence at Liverpool, but he has had an immediate impact on how structurally sound a previously flaky defence looks.
“There is an echo of Van Dijk’s early months at Anfield.”
"Wow! That's a big question" 😲— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) October 7, 2022
"He's Saliba, he's no one else"
Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta reacts to whether William Saliba can be as good as Virgil Van Dijk 🔴 pic.twitter.com/zQ4ciCp6GH
The Sky Sports pundit added: “So far, Arsenal are conceding fewer goals and shots per game than last season, and there has been a significant drop off in the number of touches opponents are having in their penalty area.
“The major tactical difference a player such as Saliba makes is in enabling the team to play higher up the pitch, trusting their pacey, multi-faceted centre-half to react if strikers try to get in behind.”
Carragher also warned that although Saliba has been performing well, he will still show his inexperience.
He said: “So far, Saliba has been the perfect fit for Arteta, although he will occasionally show inexperience.
“His misjudgement enabled Marcus Rashford to score on the counter-attack at Old Trafford recently. Arsenal paid a heavy price, losing a game they should have won.”
Up next for Saliba and his teammates is another tough test as they welcome Liverpool to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.