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Calum Chambers and William Saliba did very well in the Arsenal u23 win over Derby on Friday, as they push for first-team involvement.
Chambers and Saliba are both playing with the Arsenal academy at the moment, for different reasons.
For Chambers, after a year out with an ACL injury, he needs the games to get back to full match sharpness again. As for Saliba, he doesn’t have any fitness issues, but he’s just struggling to break into Mikel Arteta’s thinking for the first team.
Regardless of the reason for their inclusion in the u23s, both will want to impress Steve Bould to make sure the academy coach is putting in a good word for them with Arteta.
Saliba did particularly well in the Derby game on Friday. Defensively, he hardly put a foot wrong, making a few vital interceptions to stop crosses.
The centre-back was also a threat in possession, always taking the opportunity to pass forward and run into space. That eventually helped lead to the third goal of the game, as he set Arsenal on a counter finished by Kido Taylor-Hart.
But that sort of play does carry risks, and another one of Saliba’s forward passes going astray almost led to a Derby goal. He was fortunate the away side wasted the position with a shot close enough to Arthur Okonkwo for him to save it.
As for Chambers, he wasn’t quite as adventurous in possession, perhaps playing it a bit too safe. But again, he did well defensively despite splitting his time between right-back in the first-half and centre-back in the second.
The only goal they conceded was more down to a Pablo Mari mix-up with the goalkeeper, as Arsenal won the match 3-1. Neither Saliba nor Chambers will have done their standing any harm on the day.
Elsewhere, as you can read below, Arsenal defender, Mathieu Debuchy, has made it very clear that Saliba would be welcome back at his old club.