A Twist of Fate in Arsenal’s Pursuit
Arsenal’s dramatic fall from the Premier League’s pinnacle last season might just be summed up in a single name: William Saliba. The centre-back asserts that, had injury not cut short his campaign, the coveted trophy might have been destined for the Emirates.
Saliba’s Season-Defining Moment
As every devoted Gunners fan would remember, the scene was the Europa League last-16 second-leg against Sporting CP. Just over 20 minutes in, and Saliba was forced off the pitch, his evident discomfort sealing the fate of the game and, perhaps, Arsenal’s season. This wasn’t just a minor hiccup; it signified him missing the final 11 matches of the Premier League.
The stats speak for themselves. While Arsenal initially showed resilience, winning their first two matches sans Saliba, their form nosedived. An eight-point lead evaporated. Manchester City, not missing a beat, swooped in for the title for the third consecutive season. Mikel Arteta’s side, dispirited, only managed victories in three of their final nine outings.
“I believe things would’ve been different without the injury. It’s obvious that with me at full strength, we might have been champions,” Saliba lamented in a chat with Telefoot, adding, “Last year, I had a great run. The injury during the season and at the crucial stage was unfortunate.”
🗣️ "Sans ma blessure, Arsenal aurait pu être champion"
Pour Téléfoot, William Saliba a accordé un entretien à @YassinNfaoui ! Sa blessure, le titre de champion manqué, ses ambitions cette saison, les Bleus : il se livre, dans une interview à retrouver demain dès 11h ! pic.twitter.com/p1cGGFWXBs
— Téléfoot (@telefoot_TF1) September 30, 2023
A Rising Star at the Emirates
His statement isn’t mere hubris. Prior to his setback, Saliba had been the linchpin of Arsenal’s backline, starting every league game and proving his mettle as one of the standout performers. The echoes of his 2004 predecessors, the ‘Invincibles’, seemed not too distant with him in the XI.
After a long recuperation, the Frenchman returned fit and fiery during the pre-season. He’s played a pivotal role in the current campaign too, featuring in all six of Arsenal’s league games. “This is a fresh start, with renewed ambitions,” Saliba articulated with optimism, “I’m hopeful of an even better outcome this season.”
Arsenal’s Undefeated Streak
Arsenal, currently, seems to be in sublime form. They’ve not tasted defeat in any competition and have amassed a promising 14 points out of 18 in the league. Ahead of their face-off against Bournemouth, Arteta conveyed his enthusiasm, stating, “We’ve faced varied situations this season and the dynamics will continue to shift. Our aim remains unchanged. We’re navigating three different tournaments in a week, a daunting task, but we’re geared up for the challenge.”
The narrative of Arsenal’s previous season might have changed with Saliba’s presence, but the world of football is unpredictable. This season offers renewed hope, and with Saliba fit and firing, the Emirates could well be anticipating some silverware. Only time will tell if the Gunners can turn their fortune around. Arsenal fans, undoubtedly, will be watching with bated breath.