“Next year, we will have an even better war” - Arsenal star William Saliba sends strong title message to rivals Manchester City

William Saliba sent a strong message to Man City
William Saliba sent a strong message to Man City

Arsenal centre-back William Saliba has vowed to come back stronger next season after the Gunners narrowly missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City. They challenged for the title in the last two seasons but failed to get over the line both times.

Mikel Arteta and Co. were unfortunate not to win their first league title in 20 years last season. The Cityzens clinched their fourth title in as many years in the final game week.

Arsenal ended their season with 89 points from 38 games, two points behind Manchester City. The Gunners were also City's main contenders during the 2022-23 season, where they also finished second with 84 points, five behind City's total of 89.

Saliba spoke with L'Equipe, admitting he believes the Gunners are reaching the levels of Manchester City. He said (via Football London):

"We played against them three times [last season] and we made them struggle. They feel and we feel that we are close to them. Next year, we will have an even better war."

Arsenal played Manchester City thrice last season, finding relative success. They won the FA Community Shield final last summer, winning 4-1 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 in normal time. They also won four points across their league fixtures, with a 1-0 home win (October 8, 2023), and a 0-0 draw at the Etihad (March 31, 2024).

"I am in the top three defenders" - Arsenal's William Saliba makes bold claim; compares himself to Liverpool superstar Virgil van Dijk

Arsenal star William Saliba believes he is a top-three defender in the Premier League. He said he is starting to feel as commanding as Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk in the box.

Saliba had an outstanding season for Arsenal, playing every single minute in the league at the heart of their defense alongside Gabriel Magalhaes. He helped the Gunners keep 18 clean sheets in 38 games and was subsequently named in the PFA Team of the Year.

He told L'Equipe (via METRO):

"I’m not the guy who talks a lot, but I’m talking more and more. ‘I’m making progress in that regard. In defense at Arsenal, I’m one of the leaders. (Virgil) Van Dijk has an aura, for example. He’s the boss, he commands everything. You can feel that he scares the attackers. But I’m starting to feel the same way.
"I’m starting to see that the attackers are feeling fear. Sometimes, when the players are in your zone, they don’t have fun. And when there’s a one-on-one and the player is going to retreat, bring the ball out, run away from the duel, it’s nice (smile)."

He added:

"I think I am in the top three [defenders in the league]. We finished with the best defence. I watch a lot of matches. I am a very humble person but last season, just like this season, I am in the top three defenders."
"I need to continue to work to go even higher […] in terms of concentration, I am a lot better. Before, I could play a top match but in one phase of play, I slept a bit. That is no longer the case. I am always on alert."

Saliba will be aiming to make an impact in the upcoming Euro 2024 with France after making the squad due to Dayot Upamecano's injury.

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