Ian Wright praised ‘fantastic’ Gabriel Jesus and ‘magnificent’ William Saliba after the pair made their debuts in Arsenal’s opening-day victory over Crystal Palace.
The Gunners, who finished fifth in the Premier League last season, began their 2022-23 campaign with a 2-0 win over Patrick Vieira’s Palace at Selhurst Park.
Mikel Arteta’s side came flying out of the blocks and took the lead on 20 minutes as Gabriel Martinelli headed home a neat corner routine to register the first goal of the new campaign.
Crystal Palace rallied either side of half-time but Arsenal were able to resist the home side’s advances before putting the game to bed thanks to a Marc Guehi own goal.
Jesus, Saliba and Oleksandr Zinchenko all made their debuts for the north London side and Wright was impressed with Arsenal’s performance as they signalled their intent for the season with a hard-fought win.
Asked to rate Saliba’s debut, Wright told Premier League productions: ‘Magnificent. He was fantastic tonight. He looks like a brand new signing.
‘Mikel and Edu have got to take a lot of credit for what they’ve done with this guy. This guy is someone we’ve always thought would be special.
‘Even when they sent him out on loan there were fans calling for him to come back. He’s a full international now, he looks composed, calm, he’s got great pace.
‘It’s a decision that was magnificent from Arsenal. It would have been easy to bring him back last year but they gave him the extra season and now he looks like he’s been playing in that position for years.
‘At 21, to go to Crystal Palace for the first game of the season and play like that… you don’t want to get carried away but that’s some performance.’
Saliba completed a £27m move to Arsenal in 2019 but was making his long-awaited debut for the Gunners, having spent the last two seasons out on loan.
Jesus, meanwhile, was playing his first game under Mikel Arteta following a £45m move from Manchester City earlier in the summer.
While the Brazilian did not get on the scoresheet, he too produced an impressive display, tormenting the Crystal Palace defence in the opening 45 minutes.
‘It’s the link-up play, it’s the positions he takes up, it’s the threat and the pressing,’ Wright said of Jesus. ‘He looked fantastic.
‘He’s one of the best around at closing down, the Brazil manager has said that and Mikel has said it as well.
‘He’s a great player and it’s something Arsenal have needed, someone who can be a presence in and out of the box. He continually caused problems.
‘He’s going to score goals for us, you can see that. That’s going to be a massive, massive bonus for Arsenal. He’s a massive addition to the team.’
Arsenal manager Arteta also praised Saliba and Jesus after the Gunners clinched all three points in south London.
‘For him [Saliba] to play his first Premier League game away from home against Palace, real credit to the boy because he stood with a big presence and a lot of composure,’ Arteta said.
‘Jesus’ game is just a nightmare for defenders. He is electric, he never stops, he is always on your shoulder, he is ready to go with and without the ball and I am really pleased with his performance.’
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