Joe Willock has hailed fellow Academy graduate Bukayo Saka after his outstanding performance in the 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League last night.

The 18 year old, making only his second start for the club, scored a superb goal, and was involved in both the other Arsenal strikes as the Gunners got their European campaign off to a flying start.

Willock opened the scoring himself after good work from Saka down the left, and he was keen to pay tribute to his teammate afterwards.

“He’s a special player, he got two assists and one goal tonight,” said the 20 year old.

“I’m happy to score and contribute to help us win the game. But as a whole I thought we all did well and it’s a big night for us.

“It was a good game for us, a lot of young players came in and we just did what the manager asked and it was a good win. Good clean sheet, we’ll take confidence into the next game.”

Willock was taken off during the second half, having been booked in the 63rd minute, and while he looked a little disconsolate, he had no complaints after the game.

“I always want to play,” he said, “but if the manager brings me off that’s his decision, I have to stick with it and support it.”

If he keeps playing like he did last night, he’ll find himself doing 90 minutes with much more frequency.

Check out today’s Arseblog

Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Arsenal: Willock and Saka shine as Gunners win away

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Mark
Mark

The one and only positive of being in the Europa League again is it is an opportunity for the young players like Saka, Smith Rowe and hopefully Martinelli who won’t be getting much time in the league matches to get some quality playing time in meaningful games against good competition. It’s a different level for sure from the Carabao Cup matches against lower tier English sides. As a supporter it also makes the EL matches more interesting when we get to see exciting young talent play alongside some of the veterans.

I do wonder what Saka starting and getting to play the whole match means for Nelson, might mean nothing or could it mean he’s moved ahead of Nelson in Emery’s eyes.

santi's thigh grab
santi's thigh grab

Saka and Nelson have different qualities but to get the start over Nelson seems to indicate Saka is preferred or they are spreading the time. Taking advantage of the time you are given as a youngster or any player for that matter usually results in getting more time. Emery has to be wondering what he can do against PL teams.

Pookins
Pookins

It could also be that the manager sees Nelson playing a part on Sunday against Villa so played Saka last night to save him

Mpls
Mpls

If so, I hope he takes his chance well. The previous match didn’t go so well. That was the case for a large number of players, not just Nelson, but Saka is showing him there is serious competition from the academy so nobody is an heir apparent.

YOLO Toure
YOLO Toure

Agreed! I do want to see more of Martinelli – he seemed really exciting in pre-season, so hoping he gets a few cup starts to show some more.

Emery’s Assistant
Emery’s Assistant

I did mention He will need to beef up a little

Sagebrush Farm
Sagebrush Farm

Thing is last night everybody put in good shift, even xhaka and mustafi and Luiz. I can only wish they played like this every week

Santori
Santori

Alas..

Santori
Santori

Saka needs to be taken in perspective.

He showed some inexperience first half and struggled) albeit not as much as Smith-Rowe.

BUT he persevered and came good second half.

That said, whilst recognising the contributions of the younger crop, it is important not to get carried away.

Their success was very much built on some better performances by senior players as well.

In particular (UNPOPULAR for some) Granit who led by example on the night. He and Kolasinac came out aggressive second half to help try and assert better pressure on the Germans.

Also surprisingly , the pairing of calamity duo Luiz and Mustafi seemed to bring the best out of them. Perhaps they were nervous with each other thinking the other was going to make the gaff so they were more alert.

I think there is an issue that we are still letting in too many shots.

BUT that needs to be worked on as a team. BC defense starts from the top.
And Auba, Saka and Smith-Rowe struggled with retention plus our midfield were still not as tight with the forward line in the press.

This led to the yoyo swings between attack and defending.

BUT this was inevitable given two young players being carried and I thought given circumstance, the fullbacks had their work cut out (Chambers struggled for a patch midway first half) and did yeoman’s work on the night.

Still plenty of work to be done.

Danger is only seeing these young guns with tinted glasses (which if you listen to AFTV, they are the next world beaters). Maybe but there is still a lot of deficiencies in their game and throughout the team to be so blase.

A bit of perspective please.

Ricky
Ricky

Pipe down please.

Goonerest
Goonerest

Last paragraph,

“which, if you listen to AFTV”

Who on earth listens to AFTV???