Mikel Arteta has told Arsenal centre-back William Saliba to ignore comparisons to Virgil van Dijk ahead of their match against Liverpool on Sunday.
Saliba has had a strong start to the season, and his excellent form has helped the Gunners to the top of the Premier League after eight games.
Arsenal’s title credentials will be put to the test when they face Liverpool at the Emirates, and all eyes will be on Saliba.
While the France international joined the club in 2019, it is only now that he is getting a run of games after loan spells away, and his promising start has sparked speculation about whether he can become as good as Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.
When asked about the comparison, Arteta responded, “Wow, that’s a really big question.”
“I am very pleased with where he is right now.” He is Saliba, he is no one else, and he must forge his own path.” His poise and leadership on the pitch, as well as his ability to establish himself, have been outstanding.
“And then he did it in a very natural way, with no flashing lights, just being himself.” He’s quiet and confident at the same time.”
While Arsenal is enjoying a period of optimism, having won nine of their first ten games in all competitions this season, Liverpool has had a difficult start.
Jurgen Klopp admitted last month that his team was still a work in progress, despite the Reds currently sitting in ninth place.
“I’m not here to judge where Liverpool are,” Arteta insisted. What they have accomplished in the last five years does not require a presentation. It’s obvious.” They’ve been at the top of every competition for the last five years, so they deserve credit for what they’ve accomplished.
“Another thrilling game in front of our fans against one of the toughest opponents in the league.” It will be a very demanding match that will require us to be at our best once more.”
Arsenal’s match against Liverpool is the third of 13 in a 43-day span before the league pauses for the winter World Cup.
Arteta is aware that the demands on his squad are high, but he accepts the situation.
“We know that the fixtures we’ve been given have no precedent in this league because of the World Cup and everything else we have to play in between,” he explained.
“Every team is unique, and every squad is unique.” If you sustain injuries, the situation becomes much worse. It makes life much easier if everyone is available and you have strong players who can play every three days. “It is something we have to experience and taste.”
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