Williams Saliba is set to debut for Arsenal in the Community Shield on Saturday. It’s something that surely hands an advantage to Liverpool.
Liverpool’s season gets underway today. The champions of England face FA Cup winners Arsenal in the Community Shield – a match they lost a year ago.
Manchester City took the shield after a penalty shootout but that wouldn’t be a sign of things to come. Liverpool would top their rivals all season and finally end a 30-year wait for the title.
So Liverpool will set out to right that wrong from last season – and it won’t be the only one. The Reds also suffered a defeat to Arsenal after the restart, losing 2-1 despite dominating the game. Again, Liverpool will hope to correct things there.
Jurgen Klopp’s team just couldn’t create the necessary chances to score at the Emirates. They managed 24 shots but only eight hit the target – Arsenal mustered three all game and scored twice.
But if things go as reported, Liverpool may already have an advantage for Saturday.
Arsenal signed Saliba from Saint-Etienne for £27m in July 2019 but left the player on loan there last season. Now, over a year later, he should lineup against Liverpool on Saturday. ESPN expects the defender to start the game, and Liverpool should take note.
Because if Saliba makes his debut, it will be his first competitive football since March. Ligue 1 never restarted their season, so by the time French sides were playing again, Saliba had left for Arsenal.
The Gunners have only played one friendly, too. They beat MK Dons on Tuesday 4-1, with Saliba making his non-competitive debut. He only played 46 minutes – his only minutes since his last game for Saint-Etienne in March.
Now Liverpool should surely attack the defender. Saliba may be a very talented 19-year-old but he’s still a teenager who hasn’t played any competitive football for over five months. He’s only played 46 minutes since then, competitive or not.
We expect Liverpool to lineup with their strongest XI, too, meaning Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah are up against Saliba. Even Rhian Brewster, in his current form, would surely trouble the teenager.
Saliba making his debut would offer Liverpool an obvious target, should the Reds feel ruthless. And seeing as they will want to right two wrongs from last season, they very well may be.
And when Liverpool feel ruthless, they usually rack up a cricket score.