Friday, June 21, 2024

“They are so willing to learn” – Arteta lauds Saka & Martinelli

Mikel Arteta was quick to praise the thirst for knowledge shared by Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli after watching his young attackers put Everton to the sword at the Emirates.

Saka produced a ‘moment of magic’ to break the deadlock five minutes before the break and then turned provider when his harrying of Idrissa Gueye allowed Martinelli to double the advantage.

Both players, ably assisted by Leandro Trossard and substitute Eddie Nketiah, continued to torment the Toffees in the second half with captain Martin Odegaard rounding off a playing move and Martinelli adding a fourth with 10 minutes to go.

In the process, Saka and Martinelli took their respective Premier League goal tallies for the season to 10 and 11 goals – Arsenal are the only side to have two players in double figures (via Opta) – and their total combined goal involvements to 34.

Given they are both still 21 years old, the figures are very impressive and a key reason why Arsenal have opened up a five-point advantage at the top of the table.

Afterwards, Arteta said: “It’s a credit to them because in the end, they have to do it themselves, but we try to help them with our way of playing by trying to get them in those positions as much as possible.

“They are so willing to learn, they are asking for more and more every single day, and they never have enough information, they want more.

“They want the space, they want the practice and at the end when you have that and you have the talent that they have and the ideas that they have, at the end good things will happen.”

The understanding between Saka and Martinelli has been growing for a couple of years but their relationship with new creative players Alex Zinchenko, Trossard and Fabio Vieira is flourishing in real-time.

With a stranglehold on the match, the Gunners were at their fluid best in the second half last night as pairs of players combined to find space all over the pitch.

It was put to Arteta that Martinelli and Trossard, who has only been at the club for six weeks, are dovetailing particularly well.

“I think relationships are built in teams and that chemistry comes naturally, and when you see him [Martinelli] play with Fabio more together, he has even more chemistry because they love each other so much, and they have that way of looking at each other and understanding what’s going to have.

“He also building that with Leandro and he’s feeling a bit more freedom to move into certain areas, and now his confidence is high again. He’s scoring goals, he’s assisting goals and he’s in a good mood.”

Everton aren’t the first, and won’t be the last, side to visit the Emirates this season with the aim of sitting deep and catching the Gunners out on the counter-attack.

For a while it looked like Sean Dyche’s side had Arsenal’s number until Zinchenko, stepping in-field from left-back, started to work angles that eventually unpicked the lock. While Saka’s finish for the opener was devastating, the Ukrainian’s perfectly weighted pass did much of the heavy lifting.

“That’s why we brought him here, because he brings something different to the team,” said Arteta of Zinchenko.

“His mentality and his quality to do certain things allows us to be unpredictable and to generate a lot of threat every time we are in ball possession.

“He’s played those kind of games against low blocks 200 times and that’s very helpful.

He added: “You have to produce those magic moments and as you said, take that initiative and have the mentality that “I’m going to do it on the pitch – I’m not going to wait for somebody else to do it.”

“When you have a few players with the willingness and capacity to do that, you have a better chance to win more games.”

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Mayor of the Woolwich

Thank you to these beautiful bastards for giving me the most perfect birthday present.🎉🎉🎉

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!! 💪🏽

Johnny 4 Hats

Happy birthday brother! I woke up this morning and took off the slightly rose tinted glasses from last nights display. My god Saka. That goal was so, so important. We just could not get anywhere near their goal. It felt for all the world like Dyche had an Arsenal cheat code. I was bracing myself for a hugely tough and possibly disappointing evening. And to score a goal like that with his weaker foot? His first sniff in the entire game? He’s the best player in the premier league and I think he goes toe-to-toe with anyone in world football.… Read more »


I didn’t feel quite the anxiety. It felt like there was something building right at the end of the half and I thought we just gotta be patient, then boom! World class stuff from our world class superstar!
But that second half was just incredible. Partey is just so much more dynamic than Jorgs, we looked invincible in the 2nd. Maybe the best half of footie we’ve played in a couple decades… If not it was right up there and definitely for in l entertainment. I had a smile ear to ear that whole half.


Best in the league?

Eazy Deezy

Looks like you took of your rose tinted glasses and realised life is just rosey!

John C

Saka’s a very good player but no better than Odegaard or Martinelli or several others to be honest.

The pass by Zinchenko was as impressive or maybe even more so than the finish as Saka up until that point had been dealt with pretty effectively by their left back.

The real story is this Arsenal team for the first time in about 20 years has no obvious major weaknesses and the average age suggests this team is going to be highly competitive for the next few years at least.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Put the pipe down brother.

A Different George

I think, amazingly, Saka, Odegaard, Partey, Zinchenko, and maybe Saliba are currently all the best in the league at their positions (I should say their “roles,” since describing Zinchenko as a “left fullback” kinda misses the point). You could have an argument about Casemiro compared to Partey (I’m trying to be objective–whatever I think of him or his club, he is a brilliant player).


You had me interested until the Casemiro nonsense. Partey is the best DM in the world right now IMO.

Del Goon

I feel Gabriel does not get enough credit. Saliba is amazing, but has had just as many, if not more iffy moments this season. Gabriel is tasked with holding the left as Zinny roams and has been doing it spectacularly. In my mind after 25 games, both of them are an incredible central pairing but Gabriel shades it a bit …

A Different George

I am not saying Saliba is necessarily better than Gabriel, only that it’s much harder to argue that there are no better left-sided centre halves in the league. Van Dijk has had some dips and injuries this year, but I think I would start him ahead of Gabriel if he were on the bench.

John C

Exactly, Saka doesn’t play in a vacuum, he plays alongside some excellent players in a very sophisticated system that suits him and is getting the best out of everyone.

That’s a compliment to the team not a criticism of Saka.


Mate, Saka is as a matter of course now double-teamed. That is the default setting for him every game.
The left back, with Mcneil, had contained Saka, true, but Martinelli and Odegaard or Martinelli never have to deal with such.

John C

Our team is offensively a-symmetrically balanced to the right with Odegaard and an often overlapping White supporting Saka, whilst Martinelli is left isolated so it appears that Saka is often double teamed. That’s not a criticism of Saka just pointing out there’s an overload of attacking threat on the right hand side.

We’ve seen in the last 2 matches just how deadly Martinelli can be when he has another attacking player closer to him.

Mayor of the Woolwich

Thank you Johnny.
I always enjoy your creativity and the effortless humor.


Which clown is downvoting this absolute poetry. I have run out of words for our star boy, luckily we have Jonny 4 hats in our ranks …


John c I guess. He made such an absurd comment about Saka which is baffling. Saka has been the most consistent high performing player in this squad (if not in the PL). It’s for no reason he has been voted Arsenal player of the year consecutively and this year too he’s in there for a shout. Pls get some perspective before making such claims.


In the past Saka was easily our best player, now that’s not necessarily the case, not taking anything away from him, he’s still getting even better, but the level of the rest of our team is so much higher than it was, now he’s not the star he’s one of the stars


The fact you don’t mention this guy over Fab and RVP is a crime

This pass is like a footballing poetry!


We produced Brady.

We just couldn’t keep hold of him.


Good to see we’re back in our rhythm again. Let’s finish this month on a high before the international break. COYG

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Almost forgot about that International break.

I kinda like that Wenger idea of just having all internationals condensed into a single block at the end of the domestic season.

I guess one way we can use this break to our advantage is it gives Jesus an extra two weeks to get back to full fitness. Maybe get in a behind-closed-doors friendly.

First game back is Leeds at home so that’s a decent fixture to return to.


For sure, but quite happy with trossard up top for the time being, beats me how he was only 20 odd mill in a January transfer


Strong/young team, strong/young bench. Looking good for the years to come (just need Saliba to sign up).

Partey makes a difference, glad he is back, though Jorginho has impressed.

Still keeping my hopes low, just in case, but we haven’t looked this good for a long time. COYG!


Plus the referees/linesmen have decided to give a few decisions against us (see the second goal) so that VAR can correct them and get a boost to its reputation…


To be fair to the linesmen, easier to do when we win 4-0 and the goal ends up being given, that was about as close to offsides as you get. Good on VAR for getting it right.

A Different George

I have no problem with the way the second goal was handled. (I thought it was offside. Saka said both he and Martinelli originally thought it was offside.)

By the way, this match was an example of what happens with a competent referee. You don’t have to agree with every foul given or not given, but there is a reason Oliver and Taylor are the only two English referees who went to the Word Cup and regularly take charge of important Champions League games.

I also thought it was offside even after the line was drawn, as Gabby’s toe seemed just ahead of the last defender. Then the commentator explained that THE BALL was ahead of Gabby’s foot before Saka pushed it on. Close, but we were owed one for the no less than 6 points VAR has stolen from us this season.

Man Manny

Yes; these two lads are gradually becoming invaluable to Arsenal’s attack. Generally, Arsenal is benefitting from Arteta’s covert ruthlessness. Tierney, for example, has barely had a sniff. He’s been forced to try to adapt his game after Zinchenko; it’s not the easiest thing for him as yesterday showed. Trossard has come in for Nketiah; Martinelli has come alive as a result. The entire forward line too has more fluidity. Tomiyasu is now evidently White’s back up! Who saw that coming? It’s been a team-first approach from Arteta, and the fitting reward for all this good work is the EPL title.… Read more »


Not confident Newcastle will get a result. They have dropped off a bit recently. Plus City only seem to drop points against the teams we least expect them to. I just want to mention that lovely assist by Eddie for Gabi’s second goal. A lots been made of their inability to dovetail and that moment proves that they can.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

I thought Newcastle played quite well in the League Cup final but I suspect they’ll take a different approach at Man City and Howe will set them up playing for a 0-0 as they did at The Emirates in January.

Man Manny

I take it that you don’t expect City to drop points tomorrow. So, following from your argument, they are likely to do that, no?
Newcastle’s top 4 chance is under threat by a “resurgent” Liverpool. I don’t expect Howe to roll over at the Etihad. I think he will ekk out a draw or a surprise win ala Brentford.


I say good luck to gooners in choosing Arsenal player of the year this season.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Easy. Zinchsakmartisaligabripartegaard.

Del Goon

Been our best player these season by a country mile.. has to be him..

Nainsley Aitland Miles

That’s the name I’m getting on my shirt next season.


First name Jesuronjamin


What’s so sweet to see is two right footed beauty strikes from two very left footed players
It shows the coaching flowing into rising confidence flowing into breezy risk taking and trusting yr talent that is producing game changing results
It’s a joy to watch
So we now have trossard odeegaard saka and martinelli scoring goals with both feet
Defenders will be having sleepless nights …..


Arsecast today was a bit apologetic for making the comparison to Henry. Which is correct. Saka isn’t Henry. He is Bukayo Saka. But for comparison sake, Henry wasn’t doing at age 20 what Saka did last year. He didn’t start to hit his stride until transferring to the Arsenal the season he turned 21 and in a different role. I would be quite content if Saka keeps delivering the sort of productivity he has had the last two seasons, but if he DOES continue on the upward trajectory he has been on… Oooooooweeeeee!

Eric Blair

This is a team that could feasibly stay together for the next decade, only central midfield will need restructuring over the next 3 or 4 years.

Teryima Adi

That’s why we are going for Caicedo and Rice.


If I was a young player at Arsenal, I would look to Saka and Martinelli, and I would model everything they did. The hunger they show, the humility, the thirst to learn. If you want to be a top tier player, you can have all the talent in the world, but if you aren’t willing to graft, you’ll never make it.

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