Mikel Arteta praised Bukayo Saka’s courage on the ball as the 18-year-old was awarded the man-of-the-match award after helping Arsenal to a 4-0 win against Newcastle at the Emirates.
Despite Sead Kolasinac returning to full fitness, the boss decided to deploy the Academy winger at left-back once again and he was rewarded for the decision when the youngster skipped past two players to set up Nicolas Pepe for the Gunners’ second goal of the afternoon.
“He takes responsibility, he takes risks in the final third. He is a player who wants to make an impact, he has courage,” Arteta told Sky Sports when asked what the teenager brings to the side.
According to Opta, Saka has now assisted eight goals in all competitions this season, two more than any teammate and has the most assists of any Premier League teenager this season.
Interviewed after the game, the youngster shared his thoughts on the game.
“I thought we tried to bring energy to the game,” he said. “The first half was a bit slow. They defended really well, deep and compact, and we struggled to get through.
“In the second I thought they couldn’t match our energy and we just kept going, trying to play and combine and they couldn’t handle us.”
On his assist, he added: “I just thought that as soon as I passed it to him [Aubameyang] I found the space and I exploited it and it was almost a two v one situation but I always see it as a one v one.
“Then next a little nutmeg, we call that a little chilli. I sort of looked towards Eddie [Nketiah] first because I like to cross it behind the defence but I saw that it was quite tight and the cut back was on so I put it through the gap, and it was a good finish from Pepe.”
It was reported this week that Arsenal are looking to tie Saka to a new deal that would see him earn a significant pay rise. It’s fair to say, on this form he deserves it.