Ian Wright and Garth Crooks in agreement over Arsenal’s most important player after Man City win

Pundits have been waxing lyrical over one Arsenal star after Sunday’s huge win over Manchester City.
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Ian Wright and Garth Crooks are in full agreement over Arsenal star William Saliba.

The Gunners go into the international break on cloud nine after getting one over on likely title rivals Manchester City. A deflected Gabriel Martinelli strike made all the difference in an ultra-tight clash that yielded very little in the way of entertainment. But Mikel Arteta and his men won’t mind one bit, securing a huge three points to boost their title chances early in the season.

The defensive performance was key on Sunday, with Arsenal limiting Erling Haaland to an expected goals total of zero.

Centre-back Saliba was the star of the show, keeping Haaland quiet and looking unbeatable all day, leading to praise aplenty after the game.

Arsenal legend Wright told Premier League Productions: “I think [Erling] Haaland will see William Saliba as the defender that, ‘I need to be on my game today’.

“I know we’ve had games where they’ve still scored against us but Saliba is just getting better. Two of the biggest signings were him and [Bukayo] Saka, obviously we knew Saka was going to sign.

“You have to look at him and think to yourself, he could play for Real Madrid right now, no danger. He could play for any of them, could play for anyone he wants.

“So, for us to sign him up because he’s at that age where you think, where are you going now? In the Premier League, I don’t care what anyone says, it is the best league in the world and he’s here, he’s here for another four years, he’s only going to enhance himself and get better.”

Meanwhile, BBC Sport pundit Crooks was also blown away by Saliba’s performance.

“Once again the steadying influence of William Saliba in defence for the Gunners is proving invaluable,” he told BBC Sport.

“The atmosphere at Emirates Stadium was as tense as I have known it against Manchester City and yet Saliba was as cool as ice and appeared to handle Erling Haaland without any trouble at all.

“I rate Saliba as highly as I rated Sol Campbell. The France international has the same kind of presence in defence as the former England man and is just as quick. What no-one can legislate for is whether Saliba can remain fit. It’s highly unlikely he can go an entire season without some sort of injury and if his fitness does falter can the Gunners survive without him?

“Should Saliba get injured and Arsenal find that they can survive without him, then they must really fancy their chances of lifting the title.”