Why William Saliba was left out of Arsenal squad against Fulham

Arsenal v Aston Villa: Pre-Season Friendly
Arsenal fans were hoping Saliba would make his debut (Picture: Getty)

William Saliba was left out of the squad that took on Fulham because Mikel Arteta is keen to ease the defender into the first-team set-up.

The 19-year-old linked up with the Arsenal senior team for the first time this summer having spent last season on loan at St Etienne.

Arsenal fans were expecting to see Saliba at least make the bench for their Premier League opener against Fulham on Saturday after David Luiz was ruled out of the game with an injury.

Summer signings Willian and Gabriel were included and were handed their debuts by Arteta, but there was no room for Saliba on the bench.

After the team news was revealed, Goal reported Saliba was not injured and instead was just being eased into the team.

Saliba has only ever played in France, but is considered a massive talent by the Arsenal hierarchy who forked £27million to sign the centre-back last year.

Gabriel, 22, beat Saliba to the starting place against Fulham and Arteta confirmed he felt the Brazilian had to play.

He said: ‘Everyone says we have a lot of centre-backs. But we have a lot of issues in recent weeks.

‘He needs to start today. He’s been preparing really well. Hopefully he will be fine.’

Arteta’s first team of the season had a few surprises including the inclusion of Mohamed Elneny.

The Egyptian spent last term out on loan at Besiktas and was considered a nailed on departure from the club, but appears to have been handed a lifeline by Arteta.

Mesut Ozil was also omitted from the squad despite the fact the German playmaker is believed to be fully fit.

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