If Bukayo Saka features against Leicester on Sunday, he will, according to @Orbinho, become the second-youngest player, behind Cesc Fabregas, to reach 50 appearances for Arsenal.
Having established himself as a first team regular last year, the 19-year-old has gone from strength-to-strength this season even earning senior caps for England after becoming one of our most important and consistent players.
Asked to start matches in almost every position but goalkeeper, he’s already featured in 30 games across all competitions, providing five assists and six goals.
Saka’s impact has been so big – as evidenced by consecutive player of the month awards – that the boss pretty much suggested the youngster is undroppable at the moment despite concerns he’s being overplayed.
Ahead of the Gunners’ must-win Europa League clash with Benfica, Arteta continued to praise the Academy graduate.
“His form in recent months shows that he’s a very important player for us,” he said.
“I think he’s getting better and better, his performance levels have been really consistent, so that makes him for sure one of the most important players in recent months.
“It [his consistency] is very unusual but he’s been doing a lot of unusual things.
“He’s dealing with things at his age in a very unusual way, but that’s why he’s showing what he’s showing, because his maturity is above his age and so is his intelligence as well.”
If Bukayo Saka plays against Leicester on Sunday, he will be the second youngest Arsenal player to reach 50 Premier League appearances for the club:
Fàbregas 18y 236d
Walcott 19y 224d
Anelka 19y 301d
Oxlade-Chamberlain 20y 213d
Guendouzi 20y 259d
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) February 24, 2021
While Saka thrives, captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hasn’t come anywhere close to matching the heights of last season.
The striker only has 11 goals to his name from 25 appearances so far and will need a prolific end to the campaign to match last season’s tally of 29.
After Sunday’s defeat to Manchester City, Jamie Redknapp said on Sky Sports that the 31-year-old was “past his best” and had “lost his superpower.” Arteta says he expects Aubameyang to respond on the pitch.
“I didn’t see those comments, I’ve heard about them,” noted the boss.
“I’m here to support every single player and that is what I try to do all the time. I try to give them the best possible advice and when they have a difficult moment, stay right behind them and that’s what we try to do always.
“I think the best way to talk is always on the pitch. Seven days before when he scored the hat-trick and he could have scored four or five against Leeds, he was again the main man.
“He could have scored a hat-trick against Benfica easily with his qualities and it would have been different. At the end [of the day] it’s about putting the ball in the back of the net for him and that’s how he gets joy.”
Quite why anyone would listen to Jamie Redknapp is beyond us. The man advertises Skechers shoes. (Sorry dad, I know you have a pair)