Saturday, February 24, 2024

Arteta: There’s more to come from Saka

Tomorrow’s match against Lens falls on the fifth anniversary of Bukayo Saka’s senior debut for Arsenal. Only 17 at the time, he was a second half substitute for Aaron Ramsey on a bitterly cold evening in Kyiv as the Gunners ran out 3-0 winners over Europa League opponents Vorskla Poltava.

While there was no debut goal, the youngster showed enough in his 22-minute cameo – including a neat stepover to make space for a shot that needed to be saved – to suggest he might just make it at Arsenal.

Boy has he done that.

Just three games shy of his 200th appearance for Arsenal, he already has 49 assists and 44 goals to his name. He’s been the club’s Player of the Season twice, the PFA Young Player of the Year and England’s Player of the Year two years running.

At 22, he’s achieved so much. And, according to manager Mikel Arteta, there’s much more to come.

“What he’s done in those five years is remarkable at his age, when you look at his stats, and how consistent he’s been, it’s very rare to see that at his age, especially in those positions at top clubs. It’s a big compliment for him,” said the Spaniard on Tuesday.

“Getting to the top is one thing, but maintaining it is something else,” he added.

“He’s done it for five years, and as well you can see that the way he’s improving, he’s really steady, but really fast as well.

“He’s got the right mentality because he’s got the right family, the right people around him, and he’s still so humble. He has the right advice around him and that’s what makes him special, because he wants more and there is much more to come.”

While the rest of Arsenal’s attacking players have seen a drop off in their key metrics this season, Saka continues to deliver the goods. He did so again on Saturday at Brentford, finding just enough space in the dying moments to produce a cross for Kai Havertz’s winner.

He later reflected that he’s finding this season tough going with most opponents choosing to mark him with two players. It doesn’t help that he tends to get kicked several times a game.

“He’s targeted because he’s one of our most dangerous players and the teams know that, and they try to stop our strengths, that’s for sure,” said Arteta ahead the Champions League clash with Lens; the physical French side that managed force Saka off with an injury in the reverse fixture in October.

“What he’s done in those five years [since his debut] is remarkable at his age, when you look at his stats, and how consistent he’s been, it’s very rare to see that at his age, especially in those positions at top clubs. It’s a big compliment for him.”

Asked whether he considers his winger “world-class” – a pretty dumb question when the player was just voted the 24th best in the world at the Ballon d’Or awards – Arteta continued: “Well, he played at the World Cup, he plays in the national team, so I don’t know what world class means, but he’s a top, top player, that’s for sure.

“He’s a huge part of both teams, that’s for sure, and you have to see the impact he has in games, he’s crucial for us, and we know what we want him to be, and Bukayo needs to be a main part of that.”

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Man Manny

All Saka needs now is a big medal dangling across his chest. One or more of EPL, CL, EC and WC will cement his world class status beyond any doubts.


Top 5 favourite Arsenal players. Go…

  1. Saka
  2. Saliba
  3. Martinelli
  4. Marty O
  5. Rice

Honourable mentions (Zinny, Gabriel, White, Tomi).

  1. Bergkamp
  2. Henry
  3. Bergkamp
  4. Henry
  5. Bergkamp



Your experimenting with clones?


Conversely, teams doubling up on Saka and Martinelli works really well for Arsenal in a defensive sense.

It neutralises the opposing wingers as they’re so pre-occupied with man marking.

Also it makes the saps the other team’s energy. I could clearly see Brentford’s pressing waiting in the last 10 minutes. I think Arteta realises this pattern. And I think that’s why he was so raging at St.James Park as he knew Newcastle had huffed and puffed and were about to flag before the VAR stitch up.




Starboy <3

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