William Saliba missed the final stretch of last season through injury as Arsenal faltered which saw them miss out on the Premier League title to Manchester City

William Saliba admits it was “really painful” to watch Arsenal lose out in the Premier League title race whilst he nursed an injury.

The defender was crucial to their impressive campaign last time as the Gunners came from nowhere to produce an unexpected challenge to Manchester City. The north Londoners sat top for much of the campaign before they fell away in the final weeks of the season.

Their drop off in form coincided with Saliba’s absence as the Frenchman picked up an injury during the Europa League clash with Sporting Lisbon. It would be the final game he played all season and he had to observe as Arsenal continued to drop vital points en route to a second place finish.

He said: “Of course it was really painful because I watched my team play every game, the most important of the season, and I was not able to play. Of course it hurt me. Of course I could have helped my team to maybe win the Premier League but we never know.

“It was a good experience because we were first for all the season and at the end we finished second. Every game is so important, we try to win every game to win the league. Injuries are part of football and hopefully I won’t be injured.”

Arsenal play the champions on Sunday, looking to make a statement after losing out to them on three occasions last term, the third and final defeat coming in comprehensive fashion, all but ending their title hopes. Mikel Arteta’s side are a different outfit with Saliba at the heart of their defence, backed up by the stats.

Saliba has managed to make himself a mainstay at the Emirates having once looked as if he wasn’t part of Arteta’s plans as he was continually loaned out to France.

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