Monday, April 22, 2024

Saka: I understand why defenders want to smash me

Bukayo Saka says he’s come to terms with defenders wanting to “smash” him following conversations with a number of opponents and teammates who’ve roughed him up.

The England international is among the Premier League’s most fouled players – in January, Planet Football calculated only Bruno Guimaraes and Jordan Ayew had been more targeted this season – but rather than get annoyed with the situation, which he thinks upsets his focus, he’s learned to take it as a compliment.

“I just think it’s me,” he told beIN SPORTS when asked how he’s able to smile in the heat of battle.

“When I go on the pitch I’m there to have fun and to enjoy. I would say I learned a lot over the last few seasons, when I started to get more and more tackles and defenders have started to enjoy more and more kicking me, I spoke to a few defenders and now I understand it.

“So for me, when I see a defender trying to smash me, as long as he doesn’t get me, I’m laughing or I’m smiling because I take it as a compliment.

“I don’t think a defender would be calling for help or a defender would want to smash me if he didn’t see me as a threat. So, for me, if he tries to smash me and I get away with it, I just laugh and just get on with the game, because I guess it’s part of it.

“Obviously, the defender is only trying to do his job and protect his goal, and I’m only trying to do my job and get towards his goal.

“So we’re all just trying to do our best for the team. I just try and keep my temper, because I know when I do lose my head, I don’t play well. I hope I haven’t given a secret to the opposition there.”

Asked who he’s chatted to, Saka continued: “I’m not going to say names because I feel like those conversations should stay between me and them, but I’ve had a few conversations with opposition, even sometimes the players here, when I ask, ‘why are you guys like this? Why do you just want to smash players?’

“They just explain to me so I understand and once I understand it’s easy for me to to get on with it more. As long as no one tackles me really, really badly [it’s okay] because obviously I don’t want to be injured or I don’t want to be playing through pain, I don’t think anyone wants that.

“It’s not something I want to come on here and be complaining about because it’s just going to get worse if I do.”

Saka is currently on a stunning run of form scoring eight goals in his last seven Premier League appearances to take his total tally for the season to 16 goals and 12 assists in all competitions.

It appears that being a target suits him just fine.

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I wonder why anyone would wNt to smash a player who is not world class?
It’s plain professional hate and jealousy. This team represent everything that is different on how to be young, humble and successful. Zero ego, young, family vibes, playing for the badge.

IF you hate this team and it’s young stars, something is wrong with you.

A Different George

I think Saka’s point is that it is *not* professional hate and jealousy–it is defenders trying to prevent him from scoring. Despite his acceptance, I think referees need to protect players like him (and I’m not saying just Arsenal players). So, a third foul by a defender, even if it’s not particularly hard or a “tactical” foul, ought to get a card–or at least a verbal warning from the referee that the next one crosses the line.


For sure George. I was ranting especially against the drug test misser


It’s actually interesting, I was thinking exactly today how it’s been a while since he was tackled really brutally like it seemed was happening pretty much every game last season and the start of this one? I’ve missed a few halves of football we played lately so maybe I missed it, but I feel like I would’ve seen mentions of it. And I wonder if it has to do with Arteta and the coaching staff working with him on changing his game in certain ways to avoid putting him in positions where he might be on the end of these… Read more »


Elite mentality.


Agreed! I just hope no nasty defenders take advantage of his nature as ‘open season to lay into him more’. What we really need is a sliding scale of punishment also to discourage nasty tackles, ie a player would get more than 3 match ban if such a tackle is made. Slightly unrelated but I was recently down a rabbit hole of old Arseblog articles and read the day Diaby/Eduardo/Ramsey got their injuries. Having a sliding scale of match bans was the most sensible ask after each and we’ve still not rolled it out after so many years. Just means… Read more »


I feel like the reffing and var have gone a long way to reducing the reckless challenges that cause those extreme injuries.

I sure feel like the reffing isn’t good on the whole but the red card threshold has greatly been reduced and most remaining players are able to contain their rage (besides bruno guima).

This coupled with the extreme athleticism of rice, saliba, gabriel has shown that going hard into our players doesn’t give a team an advantage, what DOES gain an advantage is what porto did which is not scary for injuries.

Guns Up

There’s actually a precedent in place elsewhere for this – in hockey, players who deliberately injure or attempt to injure an opponent are charged with misconduct and suspended for as long as the opponent is out injured. I have never looked into the data to try to determine whether this rule is effective, but it seems very reasonable to me. Potentially missing 2-3 months vs 3 games would be a huge deterrent.


This “boy” is a GREAT credit to himself, his family, and to the Arsenal institution at large.

You just listen to him and watch him off the pitch and can tell he is a well-brought up human, with a great head on his shoulders.

Wish him all the best of luck in his career and hope he stays here for as long as possible, even as he conquers the world.

Denilson's Pa

Of course he will be respectful. He is properly bought up with Yoruba ethics… And he has a stable growth environment at Arsenal, so he will naturally be humble and well mannered.

And he is our STARBOY!!!


The danish supporters club podcast recently suggested we call him StarMAN now, because he may only be 22… .. and I want him to wear a shirt underneath his kit, so when he scores another brilliant goal, he can pull his shirt over his head, and it’ll just say “Not World Class”. Who cares if he’s world class. That’s not an objective thing. Who cares if some hasn’t-been pundit drooling his way through 90 minutes of football thinks he’s “good” or “really good”. He’s ours, he’s seems a brilliant guy, he has a wonderful work ethic, and he does magic… Read more »


I’ll tell you what I don’t understand. Newcastle (and to some extend Villa fans) who have created this faux rivalry with us. Geographically we are miles apart and neither side are anywhere near us in terms of competing for trophies (and haven’t been for half a century). I was speaking to a Newcastle fan the other day who announced how much he hated arsenal and our entitled fans. He then expressed his admiration for spurs. Then it kind of clicked…serial failures stick together. Underachieving, deluded fan bases love each other because season after season they wallow in each other’s misery.… Read more »


Those poor Newcastle and Spuds fans, you ‘nearly’ start to feel sorry for them… Twats

karl g

It is just that we have become a threat. Nobody hates teams that aren’t doing well (outside of their usual rivalries).

Aussie Henry

I don’t think we are a threat to Newcastle and Sp*rs – no way we are going to be ‘challenging’ to be a mid table also ran.

Death by 300,000 Passes

Why do you talk to such people?


If we lose him, hence his goals and assists, to injury, then we are v unlikely to win the league. Similar to us losing Saliba last season, he is key. Fingers crossed.


To be fair, we win our last three games comfortably without the lad.

I think that’s the exciting thing, yes we have excellent players that we’d miss of out, but we’ve got quite a lot of them.


I just think he is a step above the alternatives, see his record this season. Hence a big step down if we are playing Trossard or Nelson in this position.

Tom 007

The next arsenal legend…Bukayo
Another 10 years with the badge….


Buyako was originally our left back, but due to the poor performances of our 2nd biggest signing he got promoted upfield in the left position and has never looked back, Maitland Niles had the same opportunity at right back to progress to mid but couldn’t take it. A lot was said about a certain view of Buyako being world class, who cares about noise, lets just enjoy the wonderful displays He’s given us..

Cliff Bastin

SMASH. Next question.


I love him so much.

Bill Hall

To be fair who wouldn’t want to smash Bruno *the elbow* Guimares 🤣

Naked Cygan

We need to start working on his statue. He has all the qualities to be the best player in the world. Just have to protect him and manage his minutes to keep him always fit.

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