by Sir Hardly Anyone
Arsenal and Chelsea play their next pre-season friendly at 1am BST tomorrow, Sunday, at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Sports mole have given us a starting XI for this match of
Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares;
Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;
The Express however is jumping further ahead and telling us about who is demanding a starting place in the first league match of the season – which is against Crystal Palace. Although not exactly the starting XI, more the options and possibilities and demands.
William Saliba, we learn “wants regular first-team football,” which is fairly obvious really. Having done rather well with Marseille he wants to carry on.
He’s had three seasons out on loan, playing 17 games for Saint-Étienne in 2019/20 (12 in the league), 22 for Nice in 2020/21 (20 in the league) and then to much acclaim an amazing 52 games last season. 36 were in the league (out of 38 games played by the club), three in the French Cup, six in the Europa League, six in the Europa Conference, and one other which I can’t find the details of – although it may have been the Europa Conference League Knock Out Playoff. (Honest, I didn’t make that up)
Now 52 games in a season shows that Marseille by and large thought he was rather important to their team. And it also shows the danger of loans where the team borrowing the player can overplay him without a care for his future, since his future is clearly not with them. 52 games in a season aged 21 really is ludicrous.
However, we can see the contribution that he made by looking at the French league table. PSG won the league of course, and I think that is now enshrined in the French constitution, but Marseille came second just five points behind, and conceding only two more goals than PSG did all season. So they also qualified for the group stages.
This finish in the runners’ up spot in the league, was a fair improvement on the season before, when Marseille came fifth. This time around they conceded nine goals fewer than the season before, so again good news for the team and for Saliba.
Saliba won a place in the 2021/22 Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionels Ligue 1 Team of the Year and also won the award as “Young Player of the Year” which is given to the best under 23 year old of the season. (It is quite a pretigious award in France, not least because the very first award was given to a certain Zinedine Zidane then playing for Bordeaux in the 1993/4 season. Between 2016/17 and 2018/19 the award was won three years running by Kylian Mbappé.
Other past winners include Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, and Samir Nasri.
It is actually quite rare for a defender to win the award, as in the 28 years in which it has been awarded, only four of those awards have been to defensive players. 16 have been to forwards and the rest midfielders. No goal keeper has ever won it.
So with reports telling us that Takehiro Tomiyasu is once more injured it looks like Saliba does get to feature, and maybe from the start, for the first time maybe playing next to Gabriel Magalhaes with White or Cedric moving across to full back.
Gabriel Martinelli might also start the game with suggestions being made that Smith Rowe is not fully fit. There is also a chance that we might see the striking duo of Eddie Nketiah and Jesus.
If Kieran Tierney continues to be unavailable then Zinchenko can play at left back.
Which brings us to the odds. Here in all its fulsomeness with no editing or cutting on my part are the details from the Mirror.
Arsenal vs Chelsea odds from Betfred
- Arsenal –
- Draw –
- Chelsea –
*odds subject to change.
I am so glad we got that sorted.
- 117 players tipped as coming to Arsenal before the window closes
- Why Arsenal recruited a new defence first, then a new attack
- After two games we can start to make one or two judgements
- Winning the opening two league games is not that common for Arsenal
- Arsenal? Nothing to see here. It’s only news when they’re losing.