Former Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre believes that Bukayo Saka needs more space in the final third to become a “world-class” footballer.
THE LOWDOWN: EXCELLENT SAKA
The 21-year-old showed his class again when Arsenal and Liverpool faced off at the Emirates Stadium last Sunday. The Englishman scored twice, including the winning penalty in a tense atmosphere to help the Gunners continue their stay at the top of the Premier League.
Saka, for whom the goals did not flow earlier in the season, has now hit a rich vein of form at the right time for Mikel Arteta’s side. While he is yet to commit his future to Arsenal, it emerged recently that a breakthrough has been reached.
Regardless, many expect the academy graduate to continue his rise at the Emirates beyond the remaining 20 or so months of his current contract. So far this season, the 21-year-old has racked up seven goal contributions in nine Premier League games, and one former Gunner believes that Saka has the potential to achieve even more.
THE LATEST: ON THE ROAD TO BECOMING WORLD-CLASS
Former Arsenal defender Silvestre believes that Saka needs more time and space on the pitch to become an even better player than he is at the moment.
In an exclusive interview with Bettingexpert, the Frenchman said: “Bukayo Saka scored a couple of goals against Liverpool. He had a bit of a slow start to the season but seems to have picked it up in the last couple of weeks.
“The problem for Saka is that he is facing two players most of the time. They double up on him. Against Liverpool, he had more freedom or more space. So it is almost like a 1v2 most of the time for him. He is being watched because he is a real threat and all the Premier League players know that.”
“So for him, he needs to move a little bit more on the pitch. To go central, go to the other side of the pitch, keep moving. If he stays in the same area, it is easier for everybody to pick him up.
“And then, I think he has got the ability to score more goals. He has done that this weekend. He needs to be more of a presence in the box with Jesus and Martinelli. He has responded well, and we can see he is enjoying himself.”
THE VERDICT: GOOD OBSERVATION
The reason for players doubling up on Saka is simple – lately he has been playing ahead of a natural centre-back (Ben White) on the right flank. The case is usually different when Cedric Soares or Takehiro Tomiyasu plays behind him in the right-back role to which they are more accustomed.
Over time, the England international will figure it out, and maybe in the latter stages of the season, either Soares or Tomiyasu will get to play behind him.