William Saliba has discussed Arsenal’s new lunchtime rule that Mikel Arteta implemented to bring the players “closer” together – explaining it’s worked wonders.
The Arsenal boss has been known to try the odd unconventional motivational method but his latest one is actually incredibly tame by the Spaniard’s standards. Saliba has explained how while the Gunners were in the United States for their pre-season tour, Arteta wanted to ensure the entire travelling party felt united as one so made sure someone sat next to a new person every time there was a break for food.
Though, as Saliba recalls, it started in pre-season, the Frenchman’s comments make it sound as if this is a rule that has carried on into the campaign. “We do a lot of things to be closer and closer and to learn about each other,” the 22-year-old told club media.
“The coaches will speak to us about how important it is to be a unit and to be together, not just with the fans, but as a team as well. An example is when we were on tour in America, for every meal we always mixed the tables. We don’t choose the table where we sit at lunch or dinner.
“We get to speak to the coaching staff, to other players and I really like that. There might be a player there who you speak to less and it’s a chance to know them more, to be together, and that all helps as a team when you are on the pitch too. It really helps when you are on the pitch.”
It certainly seems to have translated onto the pitch, with the Gunners yet to lose a league game so far this season having won three and drawn one of their opening four fixtures this term.
Off the pitch, this is the happiest and most harmonious Arsenal have looked for quite some time. Long gone are the days when rumours and reports of in-fighting were rife, there is no speculation nowadays suggesting any members of the side are unhappy with the manager.
Saliba has been the subject of such rumours, with two of his three loan spells away from Arsenal plagued by speculation claiming that he had suffered a complete breakdown in his relationship with Arteta. The reality, as laid bare by the man himself, is rather different.
The defender continued: “We have very good atmosphere here. Every day we have a laugh, we have a joke, we like being round each other, but when we are on the pitch we go hard and we are serious. It’s important to have both – you cannot do one without the other.”