Saka shows he is Arsenal’s best left wing option

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Bukayo Saka had already featured for the Arsenal first-team last campaign and in pre-season but last night he truly announced himself to a wide audience with a fine performance in the 3-0 victory away to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Saka’s goal, the first of his senior career, was the highlight of his display, but he also played a part in Joe Willock’s opener and did well to win the ball in the build-up to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike.

Given that he has only recently turned 18, Saka inevitably still has much room for improvement, and he will have learnt much from coming up against senior players with regards to making decisions quickly under pressure.

It is important to not expect too much from him straight away, but at the same time Arsenal are crying out for a genuine option on the left wing.

With Aubameyang stationed up front in the absence of Alexandre Lacazette, Saka is currently Arsenal’s outstanding candidate to play on the left side of the attack.

Reiss Nelson prefers to play on the left but is actually more effective on the opposite flank, while midfielders such as Dani Ceballos and Mesut Ozil have been used there previously and summer signing Gabriel Martinelli is waiting for his chance.

Saka, though, is the best option at present and playing with genuine width would benefit Arsenal hugely. He is not in a position where he is ready to start every game, but he should certainly be considered as an option from the bench in some fixtures and a starter in others.

Given the rapid progress he has made, it is worth remembering that Saka is still technically a second year and is eligible to play for the U18s this season. Instead, he has barely played for the U23s and is on the fringes of the first-team squad. Now it is hoped that he will receive further chances on the big stage.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Maul Person
Maul Person

Do it! Without subjecting him to too much pressure, of course!

Don Cazorleone
Don Cazorleone

Too late. The train’s already left the station.

Penfield
Penfield

Sama was immense last night

Maul Person
Maul Person

Not sure about him but Saka definitely was!

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

Saka-sama indeed was excellent.

Prakhar
Prakhar

Saka-kun became Saka-sama against Frankfurt.

ua1107
ua1107

What about Emile Smith Rowe? Doesn’t even seem in discussion.

Lettra
Lettra

Thats a good thing. He like Sakha has a very high ceiling but his injuries means he will struggle to come back to the form he showed last year before he can excel and develop. He needs to get time to do that.

David C
David C

ESR should be loaned out in January, needs playing time to find his groove after injuries.

Saka should start over Pepe when Laca is fit. Pepe might need some time on the bench to reflect, I’m willing to be patient with him because he’s just moved to a new country and league, but if Emery doesn’t reward Saka for yesterday’s game with a start on Sunday then I think he’s sending a bad message to the young guns.

Mike
Mike

sorry, but that’s ridiculous. He needs time on the pitch to adjust, it’s not like he needs to think about his mistakes. Would like to see Saka get time too though.

Maul Person
Maul Person

It’s probably best if he flies under the radar for a bit. But then, at that age, there are going to be highs and lows and with him coming off the back of injury, he was going to be a bit rusty. He’ll come good. Not talking about him doesn’t mean he isn’t rated.

Goontang
Goontang

Make your own opinion but smith rowe coming off injury and saka starting over Nelson probably shows what the coaching staff think at this point. Nelson has been fine in the first 2 games he played for us this season, but these two lads seem to stand out and rise to the occasion.

Coquinho
Coquinho

It’s possible that Nelson was held back in mind of a start on Sunday.

Kran Stoenke
Kran Stoenke

Nelson honestly wasn’t close to being starter quality for arsenal this season. Also he needs to pass more. Also the game Saka had for arsenal yesterday vs frankfurt, Nelson never had such a game for hoffenheim last season. Need to stop overhyping Nelson, its getting into his head.

Old Bloke.
Old Bloke.

Really enjoyed seeing the yougsters perform so well last night. Hope to see them in action again on Tuesday night and getting more Premiership game time. We have great potential in our young players.

Goontang
Goontang

The boy has stood out at every opportunity hes got. You’ve got players like Hudson-odoii who just got given a ridiculous contract but has never produced a display for the first team like Saka did last night. I’m happy for him to fly under the radar and keep producing when given the opportunities. No doubt theres some Bundesliga clubs monitoring.

wojerwabbit
wojerwabbit

Saka is possibly our most talented youngster at the moment and I’m over the moon about him being ours but if you’ve watched Hudson-Odoi, you’d know that he is worth every penny of that contract. The kid’s an absolute baller.

Samgunz
Samgunz

Tbf everytime I’ve seen Hudson-Odoi he stands out like Saka, he’s definitely had at least a couple of performances like that for Chelsea, and that’s why they’ve been desperate to keep him. If Saka walks into the first team like Wilshere did its cos he deserves it and he’ll do fine with the limelight with Freddie and fast maturing Willock either side of him.

Tapps

I’d reward him with a starting berth for the Villa game. It would send a positive message to Bukayo, and to the rest of the youngsters on the cusp. And Willock should start every game in my opinion.

Con
Con

Jeorge, I’ve seen mention several times that Nelson is better on the right, could you expand on that?

My Cousin Vinai
My Cousin Vinai

Basically most of Nelson’s best performances and the majority of his performances at academy level were on the right.

Lucas Sam
Lucas Sam

But he performed great on the right for Hoffenheim

Kran Stoenke
Kran Stoenke

As much as he likes to cut inside, it’s really really hard to be an inverted winger. Because the defender can always take care of the angles easier without being threatened to concede a cross. Hopefully he can become as good as sterling, sancho, Bernardo silva, sanchez mahrez etc one day. But for now, playing Nelson as an inverted winger is almost a waste of possession

Tungor_Adams
Tungor_Adams

Last Night Saka set the standard for the More experienced young guns. This competition for places also between them is something Emery is managing well. Well done Saka, Stay hungry for more

Richie

Martinez, Bellerin, Saka, Willock, Nelson, Smith-Rowe, Nketiah. Arsene Wenger’s lasting legacy and final contribution to Arsenal. Thank you, Sir.

Rich
Rich

Emery said last January “ I need wingers”

His lack of width in the forward positions, his full backs being more suited to playing wing back, and his 2 best ball playing defenders getting injured, likely pushed him into a back 3 last season, something he’s never done at any other club.

The club spent big on Pepe, and the early signs are promising, he was always going to take time to settle, just like Henry, Pires, Lacazette and many others before him, but I think he’ll come good.

Saka looks like a proper winger, and Nelson looks in a different mould to Mkhitaryan, the construction of a new team is underway, but these players will need time, support and patience.

The reason we don’t have any structure, is because we don’t have a structure, this is a new team, with a lot of young players, Saka 18, Nelson 19, Smith-Rowe 19, Niles 22, Tierney 22, Bellerin 23, Holding 24, Guendouzi 20, Torreira 23

Mourinho, Allegri, Simeone, Guardiola rarely use youth players, and certainly not more than 1 at a time, their success comes from experienced players who know exactly what their doing, and can carry out instruction.

Pepe 24, Ceballos 23 both going through an adjustment period.
Our experienced players Xhaka, Mustafi, Sokratis, Ozil, Luiz, are erratic at best, and I don’t believe the worlds best coach could iron out their glaring deficiencies.

Anyone who thinks our problems are as simple as changing our manager, are in dreamland….. we’re going through a revamp both on and off the pitch, and we’ll only find stability through taking the time to build around this core of young players, and hoping our strikers and keeper can do enough to get us back into the CL.

We best we were ever going to do this season was fight for 3rd/4th

bob
bob

“Emery said last January “ I need wingers””

Then he goes and randomly switches to a 4-diamond-2 (a no winger formation), after practicing a 433 throughout preseason and the team getting used to that, and having some of the best winger talent in the league.

Top, top coaching.

CHIBS
CHIBS

Perspective Bob

CHIBS
CHIBS

Just like you said he should have played Laca in all the matches but you don’t have to worry about his fitness

Coquinho
Coquinho

Well said! It’s actually sad that you’re getting down votes for this. Our fan base will soon become as impatient as Chelsea’s and the rest

Lack of Perspective
Lack of Perspective

Lacazette, i believe, scored in his first few minutes in competitive fixtures. Fucking eternity.

Francesc
Francesc

So we can win comfortably away to Valencia, Napoli and Frankfurt but not at Watford, Brighton etc. away.. hmm a head scratcher..

Goonerink
Goonerink

Watford probably prepared better. Even looking over the fence.

Malaysian gunner
Malaysian gunner

We will know how good he is after some time. Once upon a time Wenger bragged
about his young gunners.Alas although they had technical skills,they could not
withstand the physical pressure.It snot surprising they faded away.
As for Saka,let him prove himself. One game doesn’t make him a star.
Of course the potential is there. Hopefully he will prove to be a real one.

Dave Cee
Dave Cee

I don.t think he will be found wanting physically. He looks strong and aggressive. I.m excited by him. He looks like a stronger Di Maria

Right right left wrong
Right right left wrong

I wonder why when it comes to Arsenal young starts we always feel like they can’t handle the pressure and we try to shield them. I say if he can play then let him play. How old was Mpappe when he sprung into the limelight? Now he start almost every match when he is fit and he is still 20. If young players deliver then play them.

Dave Cee
Dave Cee

That is still 2 years older than Saka. I trust Emery to oversee his development

LeCassetteTape
LeCassetteTape

Such a great crop of young home grown players coming through. I really hope they all make the grade.

DBMÖ10
DBMÖ10

I personally think he’s a little too young to understand equal distribution of wealth and class wars.

Santori
Santori

Carried away much?

Rose tinted glasses.

There were still many aspects which Saka needs improving. He was struggling with defensive positioning.

Nelson is the better option at the moment (or Auba)

Frankly preferred we kept Iwobi one more season.

Too many people getting carried away and losing perspective.

The young guns performed but it is somewhat churlish not to recognise that some senior players stood up to provide the base for this.

Granit, Luiz and Mustafi, Kolasinac, Martinez all put in a good shift.

Dave Cee
Dave Cee

Nelson is a talent no doubt, but he, like Willock, showed against Watford that they need to understand when to slow things down and retain possession. I.m sure Saka has to learn the same. But this is the season to do it. I was concerned looking at our bench Vs Watford and turns out I was right. But this is how our season is going to be. If these guys can learn and get better then I will take that. I think the same opportunity should be given to Chambers, Holding Tierney as well.
Let’s really build for next season

Santori
Santori

We need to take the chill pill.

Not too long ago it was Guendouzi that was supposed to be replacing Granit in midfield in the minds of some people.

Then a couple of poor showings brings it down to reality. These younger players will have their days in the sun but consistency is normally the issue.

Meanwhile, all these articles ad tedium do not fully reflect the game and the other contributions.

I thought Martinez had a great game for us (His distribution was particularly good)

Also Granit but this isn’t anything new bc he was also good against Liverpool and last game against Watford. But we won;t have an article on him (or the captaincy) since he is unpopular with some and they prefer to surface only when he makes mistakes.

Kolasinac also put in a shift to ensure Saka prospered higher up. BOTH fullbacks were under strain bc Saka and Smith-Rowe were less successful at covering defensively.

Also of course, neither Luiz nor Mustafi put too much wrong which is the biggest surprise,

Joe Kawooya
Joe Kawooya

No the full backs were under strain becoz of consistently defending closer to their 18yard box