Heading into the new Premier League season, Mikel Arteta will face the unique task of having just three of his eight centre-backs available for selection, heaping responsibility on the shoulders of William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes.
The pair are yet to make their competitive debuts for the club after their moves from Ligue 1, but alongside Rob Holding, they are the only fit natural centre-backs at the Spaniard’s disposal.
David Luiz [neck spasm] and Sokratis [calf strain] were the latest defenders to join the injury last just days before the start of the new season. Pablo Mari it has revealed is back running as he continues to eye an end of September return to full training, whereas Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers aren’t as far in their roads to recovery.
Whether Arteta sticks with the back three system which was the foundation for Arsenal’s success last season and in pre-season or not, focus will turn to Saliba and Gabriel but the now-first team manager, wanted to stress the pair will need time to adjust to their new surroundings.
Click to play
Tap to play
The video will start in8Cancel
“I think it’s going to take him [Saliba] some time to adapt to our way of playing but as well to get adapted to the language, the rhythm, the physicality of the country,” Arteta began.
“As well we have to bear in mind that he didn’t play much football last season with all the injuries he had. So, I think it will be a process that we have to be patient, picking the right games with the right environment and trying to grow because he [Saliba] has a really good potential.
“Everyone was saying that we had too many central defenders and it’s a funny case right now that it’s the position we are short at the moment with all the injuries.
“But I’m hopeful in the next few weeks that situation will resolve and we’ll be in a stronger position.”