Saliba defends Arsenal star after Sporting draw
William Saliba has come to the defense of an Arsenal player who received significant criticism for a crucial moment during a draw against Sporting. Saliba, a French defender, has been an important player for Mikel Arteta this season, having returned to Arsenal after a successful loan stint at Marseille.
Following Arsenal’s 2-2 draw against Sporting CP, William Saliba has come to the defense of his teammate Jakub Kiwior, who was criticized for his performance during the game. Kiwior, who completed a £21 million transfer from Spezia to Arsenal in January, made his full debut for the Gunners against Sporting.
Despite impressing for Arsenal’s Under-21 team, Kiwior has found it challenging to break into the first team due to the strong partnership between Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes. Kiwior was specifically criticized for his role in Sporting’s equalizer, where he seemed to avoid the ball, giving Goncalo Inacio an opportunity to head home for the hosts. When asked about the incident during the post-match press conference, Arteta expressed uncertainty regarding what had happened in that moment but acknowledged that someone cannot afford to give a free header and concede a goal in that space.
Despite a shaky debut for the Gunners, Kiwior’s centre-back partner has now defended him with Saliba admitting he thought the young Polish defender played well. “His first game, he played well and for me I play the first time with him and we did well,” said Saliba.
“Unfortunately we conceded two goals, but it’s ok, we played well and that’s good. We trained a lot together, in training we change the pair always, that’s why we played good together and it wasn’t bad to play with him for the first time.”
Despite receiving criticism for his performance in the draw against Sporting, Jakub Kiwior has been praised by fans for his passing ability. However, the game may suggest that Kiwior needs to work on his decision-making and physicality, which is something that William Saliba has done during his loan spells away from Arsenal and is now reaping the rewards for. Despite the result, Arsenal fans have shown their support for Kiwior as the team shifts their focus to the Premier League title race, with a second-leg match at the Emirates Stadium against Sporting next Thursday. One Arsenal fan took to Twitter to express their support, noting that making a debut away at Sporting Lisbon is not an easy fixture and that Kiwior is only going to improve.
Another Gunners supporter posted: “Jakub Kiwior had a good game last night, I don’t know why you are expecting Gabriel Magahaleas performance from a guy that just made his debut. Apart from that corner, can you show me his misplaced passes and lost duels. Back him or leave him.”
@_hillar tweeted: “There’s no point of criticizing Jakub Kiwior you can always get better in life.”