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.