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Arteta urges Saliba to focus on himself amid Van Dijk comparisons

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta hailed William Saliba’s quiet confidence to establish himself in the Premier League as the French centre-back’s performances have earned comparisons to Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

The two players go head-to-head on Sunday as top-of-the-table Arsenal face a Liverpool side already 11 points adrift of the leaders.

Saliba has been a major factor in the Gunners brilliant start to the season after finally establishing himself as a first-team regular.

The 21-year-old was signed by Arsenal in 2019, but spent the last three years on loan at St Etienne, Nice and Marseille.

“I am really happy with where he is at the moment. He is Saliba, he’s no-one else and he needs to make his own career,” said Arteta on comparisons to how Van Dijk’s arrival at Liverpool in January 2018 transformed Jurgen Klopp’s men into regular contenders for major trophies.

“The way he has established himself, the composure and leadership he has shown on the pitch has been really good.

“And then that he has done it in a really natural way without any flashing lights, just being himself. He’s very quiet and at the same time very confident.”

Arsenal have only beaten Liverpool once in the Premier League since 2015.

But the roles of recent years are reversed going into this weekend’s clash with Liverpool having won just two of their opening seven league games of the season to already leave their title challenge hanging by a thread.

Arteta, though, insisted Arsenal have to match the levels they reached in beating Tottenham 3-1 last weekend to maintain a one-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table.

“What they have done in the last five years doesn’t need any presentation,” added Arteta.

“They have been up there in every single competition for the last five years, so credit to them for what they’ve done.

“Another really exciting game to play in front of our people against one of the toughest opponents in this league. It will be a really demanding match which will require us to be at our best again.”


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