The defender headed past Aaron Ramsdale early in the second half to make the scoreline 2-1 following Gabriel Jesus’ brace, but the crowd at the Emirates Stadium immediately got behind the team again and backed the young defender which Arteta feels contributed hugely to us going back up the other end and scoring through Granit Xhaka.
Speaking post-match, the boss said: “I’m really happy with the performance, the victory, the three points and with the way we played. I think it was a really good football match against a really good opponent and it was just a joy to play in front of this crowd.
“I think the crowd was special, especially after Saliba’s own goal. The way they reacted was something I’ve never seen in football; the amount of support and connection they are showing with us, and especially with William, lifted the team straight away. I have to thank them so much for that.
“From the first minute, they were electric. You feel like they are totally with us, totally engaged and it is so energising for the team. The boys keep talking about it – they can’t wait to play in front of this crowd, and it’s making a huge difference.”
We showed excellent resilience to again regain a two-goal lead through Gabriel Martinelli after James Maddison had again reduced the deficit, and that also pleased Arteta, especially with the game taking place in hot temperatures all afternoon.
“In the Premier League that cushion is very difficult to manage” he added. “I think the way the boys played in those conditions today was enormous. The energy, the passion they put in and the quality and the speed that we played at, it was really tough to do it but that’s the way they train every day.”
The three goalscorers also received praise from Arteta, especially Jesus who produced a world-class opener before netting a poacher’s effort, with both goals pleasing his manager.
“They’re different goals, but I think the first is a top individual action to be able to produce that at that moment, especially when the game is 0-0. It is something that brings the team to a different level and his work rate, his movement and his quality – he produced two assists in the game as well so he was terrific.
“We want [Granit] to arrive in the box and create those moments. He has done it in his career, and I’m a big believer that he can do it and he now has this moment to do it. He should have scored another with that header in the first half, but I’m really pleased with him.
“This boy [Martinelli] – the way he is developing so quickly is just incredible. It’s his hunger, his character and desire to be better every single day and the ambition that he has to play this game.”