On the eve of Arsenal’s match with Leicester, Mikel Arteta warned that young players like William Saliba would inevitably make in-game mistakes and that it was part of the price clubs pay for blooding youngsters in the heat of battle.
“I always said that especially with the young and development portfolio of players that we have in our squad, you have to pay a bill,” he explained.
“And that bill is that at some stage they’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to experience things for the first time and they have to go through that process.”
He also cautioned against overreaction good and bad towards players just making their way in the game.
24 hours later, Saliba, under little pressure, headed past his own goalkeeper to give Leicester a glimmer of hope of a comeback.
Quick to take the burden off the young Frenchman, the home fans immediately began singing his name in a show of support.
The chants were still echoing around the Emirates Stadium as the Gunners mounted their next attack which resulted in Granit Xhaka restoring the lead on the way to a 4-2 victory.
For Arteta, the moment after Saliba’s hiccup was particularly special.
“What they’ve done today with William Saliba is something that in my career I haven’t seen and that shows the connection and to really be there when it matters and when it’s difficult for somebody.
“We should be really proud to play in front of them because that was special.
“I think it really lifted the confidence of Wilo and how he played the last minutes after that and for the team as well.”
The boss was also thankful that the own goal wasn’t costly.
“The good thing is you pay the bill but you don’t really pay because you win the football match so it’s much easier to learn when that happens but I am happier today than I was at Crystal Palace with him because the way he played after that was incredible.”