This season is as good as over folks so we may as well start analysing it a bit. It feels that Emery is a much more distant memory than the amount of time he actually has been away from the club, but with an election, the ‘start’ of Brexit, the death of our beloved dog Henry, and the outbreak of the pandemic, a lot has happened since Freddie and then Mikel took over; and this season will be remembered for decades. albeit mainly negatively, I fear.
One of the few really BIG sparks of the season (so far) is without any doubt the emergence of the silkiest Gunner in a generation: Bukayo Saka. Four goals and eight assists in 1721 minutes of football for the club in all competitions, and that at just 18 years of age. Pretty amazing. But stats do not tell the whole story about Bukayo who has played most of his minutes as a defender, albeit with a licence to attack, and then attack again.
Watch this video even though it contains nothing new to your eyes, I reckon. Such is his impact on us that we know all his moves and key moments. The use of his speed, body and strong balance, as well as his ability to read the game well, make a more than decent defender. There are areas for improvement but very few teams tried to constantly put pressure on our left side of defence during the season, which is an indication that they didn’t see Saka as a weakness in our defence.
Bukayo is a very sharp passer of the ball and he combines so naturally with his fellow players. His first touch is good and his first pass is quick and almost always measured.
But what is most impressive is his ability to be simultaneously intense and calm, which reminds me a bit of Marc Overmars’ time at the home of football. Attack space and get past a player (or two), look up for the best next move, deliver a peach of a cross or pass, and boom we score a goal: that’s Saka!
Bukayo is also constantly in control of the moment and the space around him… at just 18 years of age. Fellow BKers did we ever have a finer gem on our hands?
12 thoughts on “Gems of The Season: Nr1 The Silk – Bukayo Saka”
No, TA; no finer gem at the moment. Bukayo Saka has surprised, me truth be told. When he started to be introduced, I had a few criticisms about his level of concentration, physicality and general awareness, but I now know it was all down to my apprehension about us relying on one so young. Besides, because of his Nigerian origins, I just wanted him to do well, so badly (didn’t want him to be thrown in at the deep end so young, it scars him for life if he fails), I picked on his every error, failing to see that his positives outweighed his flaws.
These days, he just has to be in that starting 11 for me to feel confident we have a threat on the flanks. You described his best qualities so well, there is little more to add. He is deceptively strong and is always looking for spaces to tuck into with the ball. Also very clever with the ball in the opponent’s area, you can tell the rest of the team value him.
He and a few others do have a bright future.
Thanks, Eris, and good to hear from you. Hope your fellow countryman, eye of the ass, is also okay. You said ‘you can tell the rest of the team value him’ and that is spot on, and perhaps his biggest achievement of all at 18 years of age. There is something very slick and efficient about him, and that is what makes me think a bit about Overmars: the focus on what is most important and the cool execution of his ‘plan’.
I am so hoping the African countries can put good measures in in time against Covid-19. How are Nigeria dealing with this?
Covid-19 has taken a tight grip on the health of the world and in my opinion it will take a devastating toll on both human life and our economies. Please heed the advice of you medical professionals and takes every precaution that they advise, social distancing and washing our hands frequently seems to be the best advice – both of which are easy to accomplish.
Take it easy my friends and be careful.
Personally my wife and myself are now isolated alone and our son does all of our shopping,
TA Saka is an absolute gem and needs to be kept polished.
Here’s the latest Arsenal news.
You are doing the right thing there, GN5. Isolate and empty the wine sellers… Good to hear your son is looking after you. 🙂
Quick comment (lol…) about Arsenal Gem #1, Bukayo Saka…
First a little Covid-19 update (sorry)…
Like I said, I’m in pretty deep with my social distancing practice, but, after doing some shopping trips–and getting much needed drugs (coffee…) to my clients, I’ve seen that it just ain’t so (still) for A LOT of people. It may start hitting closer to home pretty soon, which I think could change things. Activities that feel necessary today might become (very) optional shortly…
Luckily, my mom (and her twin sister, my aunt) seem well set up for getting through all this due to helpful neighbors. I think there’s something very intriguing happening re: generational care and while it’s a GREAT blessing that children don’t seem to be getting hit hard, I believe it might be a VERY different scenario if they were…
Again, this is what I’d prefer to communicate about, but… Arsenal is something too and this Saka kid is a ton (tonne) of fun. I love what he’s got in his toolbox–a solid range of passing and running and well-balanced athleticism melded to a “heads-up” approach. This means that moving the ball (passing) is the first option…but, of course, he’s also not afraid to dribble/take extra touches when that’s the better option. And he seems to decide correctly a lot of the time…
That said, I also believe that the current trends in the game REALLY favor full-backs. (Check, for example, the HUGE roles played by Robertson and TAA at Liverpool). Despite the presence of the touchline out there, defenders are so keen to protect the middle of the pitch that full-backs are given a bit more time and space than other positions. Additionally, under Emery, our full-backs really were the only players allowed to go forward freely. Yes, they needed the stamina to run all day, but, at least they didn’t have to check their runs in favor of worries about positional discipline and what might happen if we turned the ball over. I believe Arteta wants more attacking abandon (for want of a better word…) but you can’t get a scared (old) dog (or Arsenal midfielder) to be brave overnight…
Plus, he’s definitely asked Xhaka to slide back into a left-center-back sort of position which allows Saka even more freedom (and isn’t bad for mobility challenged Granit, either, who can do better with the ball ahead of him and scanning the pitch for where he might boot it with that big left foot). Give guys like Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock (other gems who might get posts of their own soon enough…) a similar set-up and they might shine just as bright. (And, this is not even mentioning that he’s also got space opening ahead with nominally wide guys PEA and Martinelli eager to get in front of goal–by contrast our right side attack is a mess and a half).
But, I still have worries, like Saka getting his young ankles attacked. It’s one thing having the quickest feet in the U-18s (U-21s, Reserves, or even our cup matches against teams from lower leagues) and another when cynical guys from relegation-threatened sides start playing the guy as much as the ball. My observation is that he was learning and that ability to pull out of (less than) 50-50s is growing quickly. Thank one (nickin-like a chicken-a living…) Mesut Ozil, maybe…
Anyhow, he’s only getting stronger while the old dudes get weaker… (And his value goes up…while others drop…I should know…) I hope we can keep him…
17ht, there were news about some states giving up on treating confirmed cases. Asking them to go home instead. What is the ground zero like over there?
Anyway Saka and Balogun are two top names i had in mind. They have a bright future ahead of them in their careers in the first team. And both will be legends if they still with us.
TA, my guess PE is fine but reeling from the lack of Arsenal games to look forward to, like most fans of the game. What we all agree is that it’s best to stay safe. I should seek to hook up with PE out here, sometime.
They took a while but African countries have started to implement safety measures, after weeks of believing the myth that somehow, the Africans can’t be infected or that the heat in sub-Saharan Africa would make the virus impotent here. Various governments have begun to announce gradual lock-down actions and restriction of gatherings. This pandemic cannot be over soon enough.
Thanks for the responses, guys.
PE, let’s be hearing from you!
is nobody isolating then? If you are why are you not commenting? Genuinely interested why it is so quiet…
New Post 🙂