Arteta thinks willing Saka could be a left-back

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Mikel Arteta says Bukayo Saka has what it takes to be a left-back having shown real application in his attempt to get to grips with the role.

The 18-year-old, a winger by trade, has done very well covering for Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac who have both been sidelined by injuries in the last month.

Unable to call on the Scot until mid-March and with Kolasinac suffering from repeated muscular problems (the latest will rule him out until early Feb), the Gunners have been linked with a move for Paris Saint Germain’s Layvin Kurzawa.

There’s nothing to suggest that Saka couldn’t make the role his own though, especially with the Ligue 1 club having doubts about a sale after an injury to first-choice Juan Bernat.

After Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield United, Arteta said: “I think he [Saka] could (have a future at left-back) because he’s willing to learn.

“He is applying himself big time he is someone that’s has never played (that position) before but he’s really trying to do it as well as possible.

“You can see that he’s got many strengths to play in that position.

“Obviously he needs games, he needs experience and he needs to improve in some areas but that’s very good.”

Saka dovetailed really well with Gabriel Martinelli on Saturday, providing the assist for the Brazilian to open the scoring. While their youthful energy is no surprise, the fact both players have proved themselves robust enough to deal with the Premier League is a real bonus.

Saka certainly seems to be enjoying himself. “I just feel like the manager makes things so clear for me. He gives me a lot of confidence to trust me as an 18-year-old to play in that position,” he told The Athletic (£).

“He gives me a structure to how I should play, when I should go forward, when I should cover. For a young player the most important thing is to have the trust of your manager to show what you can do.

“He knows our capability from the training ground but we have to show it in games. Also it helps to have guys like David Luiz and Granit Xhaka to give me advice and help me with positioning.”

He added: “It’s the boss’s decision and if he puts me there, I am going to give my best. I like to get goals and assists, which is what I do when I play on the wing, but even as a full-back that shouldn’t really stop me. I still have the opportunity to help play up the pitch.”

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Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin
2 months ago

On a separate note I’m wondering if blogs knows anything about what happened to a cultured left foot’s blog who hasn’t posted since December?

Reality check
Reality check
2 months ago
Reply to  Cliff Bastin

Not him as well, god forbid.. hope everything is ok

canon fodder
canon fodder
2 months ago
Reply to  Cliff Bastin

Good point! I was wondering about him too! We have lost Goonerholic; I just hope that he is okay!

RedHotHornBlower
RedHotHornBlower
2 months ago
Reply to  Cliff Bastin

I believe it’s a sabbatical, Cliff. I recall that one of ‘Yogi’s last pieces signalled a planned period of absence from the front line. It takes a lot of stamina to turn out a full page on the Arsenal daily in the style of Blogs. (Good man, Sir!)

Rich
Rich
2 months ago

I love Saka, he does the simple things well, his first time passing is brilliant, and he’s got good end product, with 2 goals and 5 assists, already this season. Bernat getting an injury, is a god send…. I’d much rather go through a learning curve with Saka, than signing Kurzawa. I went into this season with zero expectations, I don’t have much faith in our squad, it’s unbalanced, and lacking in overall quality and dynamism. Seeing the likes of Saka, Nelson, Niles, Willock, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, is all that’s getting me into my seat at the minute. Signing a 27yr… Read more »

Kostas
Kostas
2 months ago
Reply to  Rich

However if Saka (god forbid) gets injured we just have AMN for LB and RB.
Is it worth the risk?
I would have taken this 27yo LB for loan just for back up and smell his attitude.

Goontang
Goontang
2 months ago
Reply to  Kostas

Hes got 6 months left on his contract. Loan would be impossible

Kostas
Kostas
2 months ago
Reply to  Goontang

Why not?
If he doesnt renew and they dont want him to play it’s a good way to raise his value and dont pay his wages.
That’s how we got Suarez last year.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago

Fantastic stuff from Saka.
Along with Martinelli, I think this could be the second coming of Cashley and Pires operating down the left.

Though I can’t help but feel this kid Martinelli is so much like Suarez or Steve’s with his willingness and his south American street-spirit.
Hope we hang on to these kids to see them grow. COYG.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Damn, who the heck is Steve?
I meant Tevez, screw you autocorrect!

Anonymarse
Anonymarse
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Steve, famous Brazilian player?

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Anonymarse

Yeah Steve, Fred’s mate

Jay
Jay
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Stevez

Dave
Dave
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Didn’t you mean Mr. Stevens, head of catering?

SciGunner
SciGunner
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

I would like to hope Saka become an amazing winger who could track back and defend than an attacking left back.

Reality check
Reality check
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Doing well at LB is a testament to the ability this boy has. He’s too good an attacking player to be limited to defensive duties imo. He’s got one of those rare cultured left foot full of magic and precision. It’s just his character and personality, he’ll play well even if you put him in goal.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse
2 months ago
Reply to  Reality check

I dunno Liverpool’s FBs are pretty useful in an attacking sense. The three strikers are something else entirely.

canon fodder
canon fodder
2 months ago
Reply to  Reality check

He reminds me of Lauren who was brought in to be a midfielder until Wenger converted him into a full back.

Dave cee
Dave cee
2 months ago
Reply to  Reality check

Dani Alves and Roberto Carlos were pretty good attackers playing from full back, it can work. TAA is doing at Lpool now.

Fatgooner
Fatgooner
2 months ago

“ARTETA THINKS WILLING SAKA COULD BE A LEFT-BACK” Rubbish! Saka has a great future as an attacking winger, and, potentially, a Henryesque striker. Playing him at full-back is a massive waste of his talents. Let’s go out and buy a decent defender to cover that position. I was watching the Liverpool v United game yesterday and was massively jealous. How come a club that is not that much bigger than us financially is absolutely destroying the opposition and tearing up the Premier League right now? It just goes to show what a club with an ambitious owner and a talented… Read more »

Niall
Niall
2 months ago
Reply to  Fatgooner

Full backs are a lot more than defending now-a-days. Just look at Liverpool’s full backs for example. Saka has the physical attrbutes for the role to play his way out of trouble and use his body to put a challenge in. We all though AMN would be a midfielder a year or two ago, now he looks like he’s been a full back for his whole career. Don’t write off a new position for a young player so soon

David C
David C
2 months ago
Reply to  Niall

If Beckham were to start playing now he would be a RB. He couldn’t really dribble, but had good pace and an amazing right foot. If I was a kid, I’d love to start playing as a modern RB/LB.

Reality check
Reality check
2 months ago
Reply to  Niall

When you are good at attacking you move up in attacking positions not the other way round. Even TAA at liverpool wants and is touted to play in attack in the future. Bale is another good example of that. Having said all that, we are all forgetting that it’s the player who is going to decide where he wants to play and they can be very stubborn about it. Saka is more than good enough to make it both at wing or no10. LB is a step down for a talent like him.

iDag
iDag
2 months ago
Reply to  Reality check

No such thing as a step down. When youth got opportunity to play anywhere in the first 11, they’ll bite immediately. It’s a chance to play and to rake in the minutes. Every single minute on the pitch counts for their development, whatever position.

Maul Person
Maul Person
2 months ago
Reply to  Fatgooner

Manager who sees player in training every day: “I think he [Saka] could (have a future at left-back) because he’s willing to learn… You can see that he’s got many strengths to play in that position.”

Fan:” RUBBISH!!”

?

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Maul Person

Lol Yeah you know how it works, Football Manager designates his as ML/ AML/ CAM.

So, there you go.

Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin
2 months ago
Reply to  Fatgooner

They have a perfect storm of a team though. Their full backs bombing forward so aggressively (Robertson had 20/31 final third passes wtf) stems from the confidence that the monster that is Virgil will take care of most danger while the selfless false 9 work.of firmino allows Sane and Salah to flourish.

Just need them to lose the 1 game.

para
para
2 months ago
Reply to  Cliff Bastin

That game? Its coming in MAY to Arsenal!!!!! ?

Rich
Rich
2 months ago
Reply to  Fatgooner

We’ve got to start somewhere, we’re a minimum of 30 months away from Liverpool, and where City were over the last 2 season, we need to be realistic. Go back 2 years, and the same questions were being asked of Klopp The narrative was he couldn’t organise a defence, and you couldn’t play that high level of press over 90minutes in the PL, as Liverpool kept tanking, and throwing away 2 goal leads after 70 minutes. He signs Van Dijk, spends big on a keeper, his high energy forwards settle, he has time to work with his full backs, and… Read more »

Nacho de Montreal is tasty
Nacho de Montreal is tasty
2 months ago
Reply to  Fatgooner

Totally agree with you on this one. Wenger once explained that coaches often have to use player in positions that are not best for them because the team needs it. Arteta saying Ceballos is best in center midfield is part of this strategy as well. He knows he already has Auba, Pépé and Martinelli on wings.

spectator
spectator
2 months ago

Exactly. And this is where the expert fans start and never stop moaning ‘played out of position’, ‘square pegs in round holes’ etc. etc. etc.

para
para
2 months ago
Reply to  Fatgooner

Liverpool has been lucky in finding players who want to win every game. On top of that they have a dynamic coach. Let us let our Coach settle and find the players both from our squad and incoming to build his own team, which will take a while though. It really miffs me off that Liverpool came and won CL before us. Arghhhh. Now they are nibbling at our invincible record. OH NO! Arsenal need to end our season on a high by “stopping” liverpool in May from not losing a game. Sadly thats all we can look forward to… Read more »

Kran stoenke
Kran stoenke
2 months ago

The arm band should really stick between Luiz and xhaka from the sound of it. Both passionate captains willing to do the dirty work albeit being guilty of doing some of the cleaner works dirtily. But as arteta said, clean slate to everyone so let’s make the leaders captain

Hi-Jay
Hi-Jay
2 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

While i don’t disagree with you, to me it sounded like Saka mentioned those two because they play near each other, with Luiz as left CB and Xhaka as left CM.

Kran stoenke
Kran stoenke
2 months ago
Reply to  Hi-Jay

Blimey, that makes sense. Xhaka did play as a makeshift left center half from the looks of it on Saturday. Thanks for clearing that up. Seeing Luiz pick martinelli up for the corner after regular time, and watching xhaka instruct his younger teammates everytime a ball goes out of play, I’m reading everything with a Luiz xhaka captaincy narrative in my head perhaps

Pooner
Pooner
2 months ago

I really like Saka. Of all our promising youngsters he’s the one I’m most excited about and seeing how well he’s done out of position at LB just adds to that. I think he could flourish in either position on the left and it’s good to see he’s open to just learning regardless of where he’d rather play.

C.B.
C.B.
2 months ago

Although I don’t like the comparison, Ashley Cole was a winger before a full back, and he did well for us before he became a tool.

I’d prefer Saka attacking for us, but he’s been great for a youngster at the back.

Kran stoenke
Kran stoenke
2 months ago
Reply to  C.B.

And he’s quite powerful for a small lad. Never got bullied off the ball which is quite admirable considering the bigger guys like auba and ozil get shoved off the ball very often on the left side

SciGunner
SciGunner
2 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

Apparently he is as tall as Tierny and taller than Alexander Arnold and Cashley…

Mpls
Mpls
2 months ago
Reply to  SciGunner

?! Wow, that’s not readily noticeable just from watching the match play. Granted those players aren’t that big, but still.

Pooner
Pooner
2 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

I was surprised by how good he was at tackling whilst tracking back. He looks like (albeit raw) full back already.

Samgunz
Samgunz
2 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

Ashley Cole was a striker.

para
para
2 months ago
Reply to  C.B.

I actually actually thought he was a/going to play FB as he did when i first saw him in a pre season.

Dave
Dave
2 months ago

Keep him as a LB till Kieran and Sead are fit, don’t waste money on Kurzawa and instead spend it wisely on a CB or a CM

Ya Gooner
Ya Gooner
2 months ago

In the immortal words of Jamie Carragher ‘full backs are either failed wingaz or failed centre bachs, no young footballer wants to be a gary neville’

AbsolutelyMarvellous
AbsolutelyMarvellous
2 months ago
Reply to  Ya Gooner

Except full backs today aren’t trying to be Gary Neville; they all want to emulate Robertson and TAA. Different era, different game.

Lord bejbzor
Lord bejbzor
2 months ago

I think he’s doing a decent job at leftback. By the way: are you affiliated with The Athletic? Seems like you are plugging away for them these days.

arseblog
Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Lord bejbzor

Not affiliated at all – but we always give credit to sources when we use quotes in stories.

PeteyB
PeteyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Lord bejbzor

Athletic produce some good stuff, and I’m sure that the fact that long term ‘arsociates’ in James, Amy Lawrence and David Ornstein are writing for them helps. Probably still unreasonable to blogs to get direct exclusives, so I’m all for him crediting reputable sources rather than reposting any old shite spewed out by the red-tops.

goonero
goonero
2 months ago

This makes the Kurzawa thing even weirder. I genuinely think he’s done quite well there, and not well for a kid or for a winger out of position but well by any measure for a left-back. I always recall stories from Ajax academy products like oh I don’t know, Bergkamp for example, being played out of position in his youth as part of his “football education”. Even if it’s not his long term destined role or whatever, it surely can’t hurt?

Twatsloch
Twatsloch
2 months ago

Saka has been one of the revelations this season. He looked good already last season and he’s managed to really maintain that form since.

loose_cannon
loose_cannon
2 months ago

I think Cole, Clichy and Gibbs were all wingers before making their names as left backs, it’s not totally unheard of anyway. And in the modern game full backs can contribute a lot with goals and especially assists. Andy Roberston could be a template for the kind of left back Saka could be come if he commits to the position.

Jean Ralphio
Jean Ralphio
2 months ago

I was worried we have too many good wingers and we’d have to sell. But this is one way to keep and use our talent I guess. I wonder how Saka feels about this.

Samgunz
Samgunz
2 months ago
Reply to  Jean Ralphio

“I wonder how Saka feels about this”. You read the article right?

Santori
Santori
2 months ago

BC Tuchel is also unwilling to let Kurzawa go as predicted. As I mentioned, I don’t see this as top priority unless Kolasinac or Bellerin struggle to return. BUT likely they will be back in. Meanwhile short term risk is we are reliant on Saka and AMN. AMN has been decent given third bite of the cherry. He IS in his “Natural Position”. He has played at fullback for 3 plus seasons now. Saka has done decent considering age and out of his comfort zone. He’s very diligent. I don’t see the need to reinforce and sign another Matthieu Debuchy… Read more »