Mikel Arteta explained William Saliba’s absence from his Arsenal selections this season after the penalty win over Liverpool on Thursday night.
The Carabao Cup clash at Anfield was seen as a perfect opportunity to get some game time to the 19-year-old centre-back. However, Arteta opted for Gabriel and Rob Holding as his two central defenders in the goalless draw and omitted Saliba from his 18-man squad.
It leaves Saliba still waiting for his Arsenal debut following his £28m arrival from St Etienne. He was of course loaned back to the Ligue 1 side last term, but his season was broken up by injuries.
The Gunners boss has urged supporters to be patient and suggested he needs a year to settle in at The Emirates.
And Arteta says the youngster needs more “transition” time before he can think about integrating him into his side.
“He had year last where Arsenal essentially loaned him to Saint-Etienne and that was a transition year for him,” said Arteta.
“For many reasons, that wasn’t the transition year that he needed because he had a lot of injuries. He had some personal issues and obviously with COVID and the French league getting cancelled, he didn’t have that year, so he needs that year of transition.
“He needs that year of transition and we are trying to make the right decisions for him to make the best possible year of transition for him to have the player we want for our future.”
Arteta was also asked about Bukayo Saka’s versatility after the youngster’s accomplished display at Anfield
Arteta, whose said face Man City next up, said: “The adaptability, versatility and unpredictability he gives to the team is special and as well the way he reads the different situations and scenarios we want to provoke during the games.
“Then the personality he plays with, he comes in at Anfield and wants every ball and goes for every challenge. I think he put a really good performance today again.
“I was enjoying the victory in the dressing room and I got the news (Man City).
“Another massive challenge for us but we’re not getting very lucky with the draws at the moment. But we’ll prepare [for] the game and try to win of course.”