Everything was looking pretty positive for Arsenal at the start of this season, so in many ways it looked like Mikel Arteta could do no wrong.
He was getting results on the pitch and his recruitment looked decent, but some pressure is starting to build after some poor performances and results.
One of his most curious decisions surrounds the use of William Saliba, because he was expected to come back to the club and challenge for a first team spot in the heart of the defence.
He’s barely played and that might be down to the sheer numbers of defenders the club has, but is still doesn’t really make sense in terms of long term planning.
There are various veteran defenders at the club who will probably leave in the next couple of years, so if Arteta persists with them and then lets them leave, they will be left with holes in the squad and a young defender who’s lacking in experience.
The Europa League looked like a great opportunity for the Frenchman to play but he ended up being left out of the squad, but a report from Sky Sports has indicated that Arteta is now regretting that decision.
It means they are short of defensive options for the game against Dundalk tonight, and Arteta conceded that he feels bad about Saliba’s exclusion:
“I feel really bad for William Saliba. Because we had so many central defenders, we decided to leave him out of the squad which was really hurtful for me to do.”
The story goes on to confirm that the plan was to loan him out to the Championship but no move came about, so it does look like Saliba could be in for a wasted season of playing U23 football.
The current injury crisis does suggest he might get a chance to play in the Premier League in the next couple of weeks, but hopefully he gets another temporary switch in January if the situation doesn’t change.