Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta handed William Saliba lesson by Brendan Rodgers

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has shown Mikel Arteta the way when it comes to out-of-favour defender William Saliba. The Northern Irishman got the better of his opposite number on Sunday night as the Foxes won 1-0 against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

It was a tactical masterclass from the visitors, who nullified the Arsenal attack and prevented them from scoring following a disallowed goal from Alexandre Lacazette in the first half.

Rodgers’ bright Leicester side, who narrowly missed out on a top-four finish last time around, are an example to the rest of the Premier League when it comes to developing young talent.

Their recruitment strategy is built around targeting players under the age of 25, who will go on to hit their peak at the King Power Stadium.

Leicester have a core group of young players who are central to Rodgers’ plans and helped the Foxes clinically execute a game plan in north London last weekend.

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Those include James Justin, Youri Tielemans, Dennis Praet, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes but it was another young gun who caught the eye against the Gunners.

Wesley Fofana was making only his second Premier League appearance as he helped shut out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette with a clean sheet.

It was a performance that throws Arteta’s decision to omit Saliba from Arsenal’s Europa League squad into question.

The young Frenchman, who was signed by Unai Emery in 2019, has been frozen out of the first team set up and is not deemed ready to play for the club by Arteta.

He was forced to watch on at the Emirates as his close friend and former Saint-Etienne centre-back partner Fofana thrived on what should be his patch.


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Strangely, Saliba was deemed the superior defender during their time together in France and was seemed destined for big things in the Premier League.

It appears Arteta believes he is still some way off the Arsenal first team and he came close to returning to the Ligue 1 side on loan on deadline day.

Instead, he has stayed put and is likely to play most of his football with the Under-23s, while Fofana steps up at Leicester in the absence of Caglar Soyuncu.

Fofana recently claimed he was not put off a move to the Premier League by Saliba’s struggles. He told L’Equipe: “No, because we are very close.

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“I call him before every game and if he tells me he is not playing, I don’t watch the game.

“He was injured a lot last season and the incumbent Arsenal coach is not the one who signed him.

“I tell myself that it can happen to me as well. Will is a great player.

“He will get up and we know we are capable of winning in the Premier League.”

The door is not closed for Saliba but it appears he has work to do before convicting Arteta that he’s ready for action with Arsenal.

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