Since breaking into the side under Unai Emery, few players have had as big an impact at Arsenal as Bukayo Saka. Despite turning 19-years-old in September, the youngster is an integral member of the current first team.
First coming into the side as a winger under his first head coach, the promotion of Freddie Ljungberg last season alongside injuries to team-mates saw him move to left-back. Under Mikel Arteta, his influence truly taken off as he consistently fulfils multiple roles on the pitch as one of Arsenal’s ‘floaters’.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles also fits this bill, in less areas of the pitch, but it is this ability in particular that has played such a key role in Saka’s progress over the past 12 months. Able and willing to fill in at left-back, wing-back, central midfield and on both wings, his approach has been invaluable to his third head coach/manager since joining the first team in he 2018/19 season.
“What I like about him [Saka] is that he’s very versatile, he’s really intelligent and that he adapts and has a lot of courage to play the game,” Arteta told Arsenal.com.
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“It doesn’t matter which position he plays, he acts exactly the same way. He’s so willing to learn and ask the right questions that he can set his own limits.”
“How he’s able to read the game, the situations that happen to him, how he resolves those situations. How long it takes to make those decisions.
While this aspect to Saka’s game has always been impressive since his integration to the first team, the ideas Arteta has explored in the past four months highlight this even further.
Returning to football in June, The Spaniard’s initial plan was for Arsenal to use a 4-3-3 – which he did against Manchester City and Brighton. Back to back losses led to the switch to a 3-4-3 which has been ever-present since,…