William Saliba’s exclusion from the Europa League squad has left Mikel Arteta feeling somewhat regretful. In part because he could really use a fit player for tomorrow night’s home tie against Dundalk, and also because a setback to Pablo Mari came after the squad was finalised, leaving the young Frenchman sidelined.

The 19 year old is available for the Premier League, but has been eased very slowly into action since his arrival from Saint-Etienne in the summer.

He has played some U23 games, but has yet to make his full debut, with Arteta keen to keep expectations over him in check. He had injury problems last season, and with the French league ending in March, had not played a lot of football. All of which have contributed to him being much less involved that fans had imagined in the early stages of his Arsenal career.

The boss spoke about Saliba ahead of the Dundalk game, as with David Luiz absent, he only has two of his eight central defenders available (Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi) with Mari, Calum Chambers, and Rob Holding all injured, while Sokratis, like Saliba, is ineligible.

“I feel really bad about William Saliba because we decided that because we have so many we decided to leave him out of the squad,” said Arteta.

“It was really hurtful for me to do. I was hoping that Pablo Mari would be back in two weeks but he had a setback and then we don’t have Pablo and we don’t have William who is fit and available to play.

“When you make those decisions you can’t always think of every possible outcome.”

Continuing on his progress, and the fact he stayed at the club this season after almost ending up back with his former club on loan again, Arteta sounded quite positive.

“He is in a much better place, he’s feeling more confident around the place,” he said.

“His language is improving, he’s starting to understand much better what we’re doing to do physically.

“He’s played a few games with the under-23s as well, which he needed because he hadn’t played any football in the last seven or eight months.

“I think things are progressively getting better and better.”

There’s no question the £28m price-tag has heightened expectations, but let’s remember he’s a 19 year old centre-half who still has a lot to learn at that age. Time is on his side, so some patience is required, and it’s far better to be cautious about using him rather than throwing him in and damaging his confidence at this early stage of his Arsenal career.

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

He says “William is fit and available to play”…What was the thinking behind leaving him out of the Europa League squad? It makes no sense, OK to feel regret about trivial decisions but anyone tasked with selecting the squad would’ve kept him in the squad..


Please read before you comment. He did not expect Holding to be injured, did not expect Luiz to be injured, expect Mari to be back, expect chambers to be back. That’s 6 defenders (with Gabriel and Mustafi), and if you include Kola and Kierney that feature in the back 3, it would be 8. That is the reason why he excluded him in the Europa league squad. Of course, to my opinion, I would swap up either the injured Chambers or Mari for Saliba, at least Europa League is a suitable place for Saliba to integrate into the team. I… Read more »


Scary stuff to pay 28 million pounds for a player who is behind Mustafi, Luiz, Mari, Chamber and Holdning in the pecking order

matt stewart

It’s either pay 28 million while the player is still developing and help him develop and be patient with the speed of his progress or pay 2 or 3 times that much for the ‘finished article’ or even Harry Maguire.


Saliba has played regularly in the French league. Not even including him in the EL squad is beyond patient. Thats holding his development back. Especially if you are saving the last seat for a less proven injured Mari.

matt stewart

Your comment was focussed mainly towards the price and that was what I was referring to, nowadays 28 million doesn’t necessarily get you a 1st team player.
Remember the next window is only a couple of months away and I think Saliba will be appraised fully before then and either included in BOTH squads or loaned out.
I think his exclusion is purely from things on a personal level for him and nothing to do with confidence or lack thereof in his footballing ability.


I hope you are right. I did not know of any personal level things. I just know that a lot of praise from many different Arsenal and French league sources came his way when we bought him. So I get confused when he is so far down the pecking order. Especially in the EL. You can say a lot of bad things about Emery. But he was really good at using the first games in the EL to develop our youth players. I would like to see Arteta take more of that approach.

matt stewart

So many things have happened for the guy in that year since we bought him, his mother has died and he has found himself almost alone with covid travel restrictions meaning he was stuck away from his family in a strange country. Would be hard for anyone to adapt in those circumstances and I think it has all knocked him back a bit. Conversely, people were playing down Gabriel and nobody expected him to be the one who has adapted so well. You just can’t tell who adapts faster to what leagues and hopefully Saliba will be on his way… Read more »


I did not know that. Really hope the best for him. And good thing he has stayed in the squad then instead of another loan move. If he is struggling personally and with lonelyness he really needs to feel as a part of the Arsenal family.


Well said. Honestly reading some of the comments on here I wonder whether some people just like to criticise the club for the sake of it.I lost my mum when I was 14 and ended up having a breakdown. I’m not suggesting that’s what’s happened here but clearly the guy’s mind is not going to be focused enough especially all the pressure and expectation that’s being placed on him by some in our fan base.


The exclusion was a fuck up, and Arteta just admitted that. Well done to him for owning the error, but not including him in the Europa squad was plain stupid. And his development will suffer because of that. Valuable game time with the first team without over exposure to the pressure cooker of the EPL – which understandably will come later.

Great Mikel has taken responsibility for this error, but it doesn’t fix the problem.

Jo Ferl

Actually thought when he was not included initially was because they were thinking of sending him on loan to the championship as that window had not closed. And thus being left out. But after something changed and Arteta figured it is better to keep him at the club maybe sighting January is near so keep him in the club, if needed play him in the league and he can still loan him in January to a Ligue Une or equivalent level.


HOW you include an unfit player who is just coming out of injury and leave out a perfectly fit capable player is baffling to me. the logic is simply not good enough. Especially when you factor in the fact that most players coming back from injury have to be eased back in and would definitely be completely out of form as theyd be starting from scratch. ALSO to top it off who is more important to the team Saliba who is the future of Arsenal or players like Mustafi when is leaving next summer? who should be getting preference????? its… Read more »

Dave cee

This. Exactly. Mind boggling decision

Heavenly Chapecoense

Problem is that Arteta talks about Saliba like he would for a youngster who was in an academy in Tanzania or Nicaragua.

Dave cee

Yes but we could have left Mustafi out of the group stage squad to give Saliba games…or any of the CBs actually

Abdulai sadiq

There are lot of lapses in arteta’s squad selection, am not happy at it, wrong decision to ommit our only creator of chances ozil from the squad

matt stewart

It’s over. Let’s move on.


It’s funny: fans demand loyalty from the players and once they get fed up with one (no reason why is required), he is good to throw away and being forgotten.

matt stewart

I’m not fed up with Ozil at all, I just realise that no amount of mud slinging or completely baseless accusations against strangers on the internet is going change things. My energy is best used in supporting the club and the team on the pitch.
The situation is unfortunate and I can’t take sides as I don’t have all of the facts. What I do know is that all of the hand-wringing and crying about this online by a small percentage is toxic to the club and it’s fanbase.
Accept the things you cannot change..

Dave cee

No question, Ozil deserved that

Naked Cygan



There’ll be talk of a Bosman by the time he makes his debut.


As if the shenanigans we have done in Saliba’s proposed loans didn’t damage his confidence enough.


His CB partner Fofana started for Leicester when they beat us, didn’t look out of place. They apparently paid 36 mill for him, but still, can’t shake the sense we’ve lost our way on integrating young players.

Nelson is a hugely promising if inconsistent/incomplete player. Credit to him for insisting on competing here, clearly doesn’t lack innate confidence either. Why was the first instinct to loan him? To what, play Willian? I agree Arsene was sometimes naive with youth, but this is swinging to the opposite extreme.


It really was a baffling signing, even if does end up bringing some value over the next couple of seasons. Doubtful that he’ll offer anything in his 3rd season. And in these 3 seasons he’s going to be ahead of our youngsters whose development is being slowed. Arteta wanted his experience and maybe for him to help link the attack and maybe he still can. But especially games like tonight it should be Reiss all day over Willian. Haven’t questioned Arteta too much up until now, but if it’s Willian tonight he’s made a bad error.

Dave cee

Willian, my God. I don’t dislike the guy but surely Reiss was worth a gamble over him. I actually worry about our young players now


Does that mean ‘Tricky Dicky’ ie Don Raul bought the wrong player or paid over the odds as with Pepe – shady!

Anders Limpar

Is Bosman still fit and can he play as a centre back?


Arteta and poor decisions lately like 5&6
If Saliba is higher than Mustafi in the pecking order then why is Mustafi making the bench and Saliba not in the EPL!!!! Fix up man!!! We all know Mustafi is an atomic bomb. So why still rely on him. With the form of Rashford, Mustafi will get destroyed this weekend. Arteta better know what he’s doing !!!!

Nigerian gunner

Rashford will do nothing.


Arteta out

David C

Mistake by the club. Should have had him in squad over Mari coming back from long injury.


I do agree. We should slowly ease Mari back from a long term injury, rather than slowly ease Saliba into the team. Something he has done or not done behind closed doors?


Saliba’s mother died in recent months.

That would be hard for anyone to take let alone a teenager moving to another country on his own unable to speak the language. Apparently his mother would have moved to London with him to help him settle and now he has to adapt alone.

The human has to be protected before the player. And the PL is a ruthless place with no mercy


Having said that and knowing our EL opponents before registration i would have selected him with games like today and AW and Molde home as a way to ease him in a low key environment

Dy Gunner

That’s dumb, why put a guy on the injury list In the Europa squad, over a player who is fit and ready, where’s the logic in that? 🤷🏾‍♂️


Why the logic of having registered 5 GK?!


The other 3 GK’s are actually our 9th/10th/11th backup CBs


Who still believes these lies from the manager? Was Gabriel playing in a different league? Look at the young defender Fofana in Leicester, he pocketed our left sided attackers, he played with Saliba in the same club and he was not so much rated like Saliba. I am thinking Arteta does not rate this guy because he was bought by Emery, same way he treated Guendonzi and Torreira.

Frank Bascombe

Man, did Arteta steal you bird?


You are spot on . I doubt this rookie manager as well. The hype around him has engulfed him and he has developed an ego.


Has he steal your bird too?


He slept with my missus. Arteta out

Dave cee

Don’t be ridiculous. Arteta wants to win. He doesn’t have an axe to grind against Unai or Raul. If he doesn’t like Saliba or doesn’t think he is ready, that is clearly his own opinion.


Well, good on Arteta for admitting he made a mistake. Most wouldn’t.


Almost wish he hadn’t. All the toxic avengers in the fanbase will just use it as a stick to beat him with.


Sad but true

Scott P

Unfortunately, it seems this is the world we are living in, where humility & forthrightness are punished while bluster & bravado are rewarded.


Registering Mari is okay but we should have dropped Mustafi for Saliba. Having Mustafi in any of our squads this season is a waste of time.

That’s actually a good point. He’s just as likely as Sokratis to leave the club.

Unless a footballer is seeking a new contract, there’s not much incentive for them to contribute much in terms of performances on the pitch


Mari has seemed so much like Denis Suarez. He has been injured for almost all the time, and when he returns, I really hope he won’t be equally underwhelming.


I was really hopeful about Arteta bringing semblance of tactics and organisation to Arsenal team.

But that turned out to be a distant dream, as like Emery era, our attacking play is one paced, slow, and totally dependant on Auba scoring.

And the strange injuries of Wenger era are making a horrid comeback. Injuries to Mari, Chambers, Mustafi, constant delay in comebacks, its all pointing to a very bad season in store for us.

We need a shining light, someone to take our attack by the scruff of the neck, and make this team perform.

Waiting for that miracle…

Frank Bascombe

Can you not wait in silence?


I was Bro. Didn’t say anything when
We lost to Liverpool and Man City
Got lucky vs West Ham and Rapid
Auba stopped scoring

But when we lost to Leicester at home, it meant that top 4 finish is becoming a distant dream
And Manu game will decide in October whether we can compete for top 4 or will be out of the race so early


I genuinely don’t get this – Leicester is a very good team and they were in the top-4 until the lockdown fucked with them. This season they’ve utterly demolished Manchester City. We played a close game that was decided by one goal. It happens, that’s football. I’m beginning to think the Arteta-Emery comparisons have a point – not because Arteta is shit, but because Emery wasn’t. The same issues remain – an expensive front three that can’t play together. Slow, technically insecure midfield. Mustafi. Ozil. You’re starting to see that Emery’s choices weren’t as crazy as some thought them, and… Read more »

Man Manny

At least, the defence is sorted. Emery’s highway to our goal has been closed.

'desi'gner gooner

By the same logic Leicester got lucky against us!

stan not the man

Martinelli in 2months could significantly improve our attack

Man Manny

As much as I look forward to Martinelli’s return, a dose of caution is needed.
He’ll be ready to play in January at the earliest.
He’ll be coming back from a long term injury. As usual, a few niggles might follow.
A wise bet is to forget about this season for him.
I see him as the heir apparent to Auba in the centre…beginning from next season.

When has Arsenal ever rushed a player back into the starting lineup? I know it’s something the rest of the top 6 do.

Maybe the longer rehabilitation times is why our injury record feels so poor.

Look at the long term injuries of other teams – Rashford, Harry Kane, Bergwijn, Lloris, Pulisic, Maddison, Boly, Allison, Andre Gomes. All of these guys straight back in the squad after serious injuries.

The only other team in the league I can think that are just as cautious as us with player rehab is Manchester City.

matt stewart

Our game against Man City was COMPLETELY about organisation and tactics.
We were hard to break down and v.well organised. We lost a game 1-0 which in recent history has always been a 3-0 or 4-0 loss.
It’s a process and right now the attackers and midfielders are helping with the main job in hand which is to tighten up the defence. Arteta is an inexperienced manager and it’s not a quick job to turn us around. He will make mistakes, but let’s give him time.


It seems we’re seeing the return of Mari as a second coming of Beckenbauer. Underwhelming.


Leaving a fit and available player out of the squad whilst including players who are on long term injuries is just dumb. 3 fit players on the sidelines and loads of crocks in the squad… Weird.


It’s one thing to blame Arteta, but we have to look at those above him who left him with a squad full of injury prone CB’s on decent wages. Had we moved on Sokratis & Mustafi, and loaned out Chambers (entirely possible in a normal summer) we wouldn’t have this problem. Just shitty timing requiring shitty decisions and Arteta’s crystal ball wasn’t as accurate as hindsight.

Merlin’s Panini

Thought it was a bad decision at the time and still a bad one now. Seemed like a no brainer to most of us to have him in the Europa squad in the group stages. Especially when others are out with long term injuries already you can’t just assume they’ll be back.


I understand and respect the importance of taking it slow with him, but I must say It is a pain having to wait….


Giving Mustafi game time and not Saliba is just poor thinking . Wenger was wise here when he mentioned he would play someone young and let them grow playing an old player who have zero room for improvement.

Signings like Mustafi makes my head in, at times feel scouting rightly deserved the axe for these .


Mustafi was an extraordinary signing – and not, as we’ve found to our cost, in a good way. Wenger may have been wise in saying we should give a youngster a chance but don’t forget it was Wenger who bought Mustafi. He may have received advice but, ultimately, it’s down to him – as all the signings were, good or bad, when he was in charge.


I feel bad for the 55 persons + the scouts + the mascot for being sacked because of the mismanagement of this club with the 30 M € Saliba’s + 80M € Pepe wastes (I don’t count the prolongation of Luiz and buy of Mari, Borges and Soarez).


We are doing the right thing in not rushing him. Feel that there’s a few reason that he’s not included, firstly is to take the pressure off him. There’s no need for us to rush him, especially when our first team players themselves are under a lot of pressure. Secondly, heard he had to deal with the loss of family recently and he has to be in London, that’s not easy for a 19yo. He also had injury issues last season and that’s why we insisted on the training programme for him when he was loan back. Taking this time… Read more »


Hard to believe Mikel on this one. He also felt terrible for having “failed” Mesut.
His excuse is he thought one other CB would be fit? To leave Saliba out for the entire competition is insane, and we clearly can’t believe everything out of this man’s mouth.

Turan Yilmazgul

It’s not just Saliba, we are talking about.. Sokratis & Ozil is required.
Cedric – Not required ( 2/3 players in current team can play RB )
Pablo Mari – Not required until January ( Injured, no pre season prep since God knows )
So, we are left with the Rookie Managers bad decisions…

Scott P

I don’t want to come down hard on Arteta here, but that doesn’t really absolve him of blame on this issue. It was still his/the club’s responsibility to get that loan deal sorted in time and they failed to do so. Perhaps we had bigger fish to fry on TDD, but it’s still something they should have been able to handle.

matt stewart

Adriano, not the entire competition. He still has a chance of getting the squad. We can register new players at the round of 32. If a loan doesn’t transpire I’d guess he’ll be in both europa and domestic squads at the very next opportunity which is only 2 months away.

Gunner Up North

Surely with the opposition we face in our group the Europa League would have been an ideal opportunity to give Saliba some first team game time.


I don’t think Arteta is handling this well. Saliba has potential so at least a loan should have been arranged. One thing about Emery is that he gave youngsters a chance!


Yes, I tend to agree. If I was Saliba, I don’t think I would consider that things had been handled well at all. Given the start we’ve made, which is pretty poor all things considered, not using a player who cost almost £30million of our very scarce resources seems perverse. Anyway, we are where we are and Arteta is in charge.


This is the man who has destroyed his chances of him getting any minutes in league or Europa.
I feel sorry about Saliba for many reasons.
He lost his beloved mother at a very young age.
He was never allowed to play for St Etienne in the final.
Couldn’t send him back to St Etienne on loan and kept out of Europa league squad.
Now, does Gabriel talk English fluently? How old is Wesley Fofana? Arteta is very bad at man management and this is just another example.


Why do blog posts these days read like excuses for Arteta?


he likes his lego hair

Turan Yilmazgul

That’s why Arteta is a Rookie Manager..
Learning the job at AFC ( Top 10 Club in the world )………


Did you just learn what rookie means?


Strange seeing so many one sided opinions when only the teamates and managers have spoken to him, seen him interact with other players, see him train, know whats happening with his family and personal life. Easier to criticize than support.

Arsenal's Slow Buildup

The way the club have managed this kid in the past few months has been embarrassing, to be honest.

First we didn’t allow him to play in the cup finals for St. Etienne and got into a public back and forth with them.

We didn’t let him go on loan for whatever reason.

Then kept him off the EL list by registering injured players ahead of him.

He is not been selected to play, hasn’t gone on loan, and not in the EL squad. How the fuck is he going to develop?


I can’t see why we spend 27m quid and have this chap on the bench or out on loan for 2 seasons. Is he good enough to spend that amount (at expense to us down the line) or is he not?

And why did we not find space to register him in europa given the level of opponents we knew we would face in group stage likely.

This is along with early FA cup stages (not so much league cup this year) the best opportunity for the younger hopefuls like Saliba and Nelson to get healthy feature.

…makes zero sense.