Bukayo Saka has received much acclaim, yet Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta remains confident that he won’t let it affect him too much.
He warns him against relying on referees for protection from aggressive opponents; rather, they must learn how to do that themselves.
1. Saka’s goal
Saka has many outstanding qualities to his credit, from bravery and intelligence to versatility across multiple positions. However, his finishing makes him truly outstanding as an individual player.
A left-footer had scored with an elegant left-foot shot into the top corner, starting just outside of the line of post and curving inward with no discernible effort or precision; rather, it seemed instinctual in nature.
Saka is adept at receiving the ball with his feet and often waits for defenders to move out in front of him, before darting past them and into the box to receive squared balls across. In recent months he has also worked on developing his close range finishing and can become a real threat when drifting towards goal.
Saka is one of Europe’s finest strikers at getting himself into goalscoring positions close to goal, and as Arsenal struggle with finding enough consistency out wide, his presence gives them hope that this problem can be overcome.
2. Saka’s assist
Bukayo Saka’s goal return may not be the most impressive aspect of his Arsenal career to date, but it does provide an indication of what he can achieve. He excels at receiving the ball at his feet and often takes advantage of defenders stepping out to pre-empt passes by running behind to collect and deliver crosses into the box.
When Arsenal have struggled to break through low-block defences, Saka has often been the one who led them out – often through nonchalant means.
His close control and dribbling skills often get him kicked hard, but what really sets him apart from the pack is his smarts. Using stepovers and quick feet to bypass defenders before pushing them out of his way – typically onto his left foot – to deliver forwards he has quickly become one of England’s favourites and one that they favor greatly. His vision and creativity have also earned him selection to their national team squad.
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3. Arteta’s goal
Arsenal fans were quick to praise Arteta after he led their side to another goal in their 3-2 win against Watford. Arsenal had been in danger of falling behind when Oliver Norwood’s long throw found John Lundstram who easily scored with a header. Arteta came through big time when helping Arsenal secure victory.
Arteta showed great foresight by quickly restarting the game with a throw to Saka. Saka then quickly sent Cedric Soares down the right flank before audaciously flicking inside for Alexandre Lacazette to score on his own.
Arsenal scored another important goal to ease pressure off their top four rivals and stay two games clear with two matches remaining in the season. Notably, Arsenal have scored 13 different league goals this year alone – an impressive feat among top-flight clubs! Additionally, Arteta’s goal of 90 to 100 league goals for Arsenal this season appears well underway.
4. Arteta’s assist
As Arsenal prepare to embark on their winter break, there are signs of improvement that indicate they have made strides forward. Even after losing to Manchester United, Arsenal showed they put in efforts on the ball and showed an eagerness to play out from the back despite losing.
One key moment during their 2-0 loss to Swansea City was Martin Odegaard’s reaction to Lisandro Martinez’s aggressive tackle on Bukayo Saka (below). Arteta later called for referees to provide more protection for their players, which is understandable given the physicality of Premier League games.
Arsenal fans were delighted when their manager recorded his first assist of the season against Watford during the second half of their match. Gabriel Martinelli’s sweeping finish capped a swift move that began with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger sprinting out of his technical area to act as makeshift ball boy for quick throw-in. Although referee Gallagher took exception, this move illustrated just how passionate Arsenal’s ex-England midfielder takes his role.