Wolves 0-2 Arsenal: Starboy Saka continues to demonstrate why he’s a generational talent
By Alfie Cairns Culshaw (Chief Editor)
It’s not often you get a teenager that is able to make a consistent impact, week in, week out in the first team. And when you do get one, they tend to be pretty special. Step forward Bukayo Saka.
Off the back of last week’s new contract announcement, the Hale End academy graduate produced a brilliant improvised volley in a tight first half where not a lot what happening, to give Arsenal the initiative in the game, and eventually go onto collect all three points. Even when thrust into a right-forward role, where he doesn’t look as comfortable as he does in a host of other positions, he found a way to make a huge impact and contribution to the team.
This outstanding ability to consistently deliver at the highest level is what sets him apart from the rest. Few young players in Europe can boast this sort of consistency. Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, possibly Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden. Considering the team he’s playing in in comparison to these names, it’s time Saka is mentioned in this elite bracket.
Wherever he’s deployed he delivers. Not on one occasion this season has his level dropped. From the sparkling attacking performances in the Europa League in the early part of the season to the Alphonso Davies-esque displays at left-back before the lockdown, to the constant shifting of roles but superb performance maintenance since the restart. Bukayo Saka is a generational talent.
There may have been question marks over his ability to show up after penning the first mega money deal in his career. But his astounding temperament, attitude and commitment were on show here. Not securing his long-term future would’ve been absolutely disastrous, and the catalytic effect it appears to have had on the squad speaks volumes.
Following the news of the 4-year deal, Arsenal have thrashed Nowich, beaten Wolves comfortably at Molineux, tied down Gabriel Martinelli to a new long-term deal, supposedly moved closer to the signings of Thomas Partey and Dayot Upamecano, and perhaps most importantly, moved closer to securing the future of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. What a week it has been.
The maturity and magnitude of this win in particular must’ve been really encouraging for Mikel Arteta. Not many would’ve expected us to come away with three points, and although it was rough at times, we withheld the timid Wolves storm and strode through in flying colours. The way in which we’ve limited the opposition to very few clear cut opportunities in recent games suggests this new found back three not only suits the personnel at our disposal, but also is solidifying our defensive vulnerabilities. It allows us to get away without a natural ball winner in our pivot, as well as accommodating for our lack of quality centre-backs, removing the defensive burden on each of them.
Developments still need to be made in our offensive build up and fluidity however. At times we struggled to progress the ball, with a lack of movement in our front three culpable, but we were also a bit lacklustre in our distribution from our centre-backs. Not enough incision between the lines, which will be a concern for Arteta.
The continual theme of the drop off after half-time is also an area Arteta will look to address. In all four of our consecutive wins, we’ve switched off just after the break, looking jaded and unable to control possession for long periods. This, possibly a hangover from the Unai Emery tenure, with this sort of period notoriously weak for Emery sides. In all four of these games, we’ve relied on either poor mistakes for the opposition or substitutes to make an impact and allow us to regain control.
Despite these inevitable teething issues, we continue to develop as a team, and have probably experienced the best week of Arteta’s spell as head coach thus far. Long may it continue.