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Bukayo Saka: Red Hot

Is Saka good at shooting?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Could do with some improvement


Results are only viewable after voting.

Geofranco

Well-Known Member

Player: Saka
Its mostly people having their favorites not do as well as him (yet) so they talk him down. Genuinely think he’s top 10 talent in his age group.
I think some people had really strong opinions of him when he broke through and they just can't let it go lol. I remember someone said Saka was nowhere close to Sterling when he was at Liverpool and yet Saka at the same age as Sterling just before he left Liverpool had more g/a than him in the league, even though Sterling played in a more explosive attacking team.
 

samspade

"You said I said" detection expert at your service
He’s an incredible young footballer, barring injury he’ll develop in to one of the very best in the world.
Very few RWs Better than him right now. He’s so complete, he’s an asset in every phase of play- and that’s his x-factor.

Maybe saliba will challenge him now but he’s easily our best player otherwise.
 

Nicenho

Active Member
It really is baffling how a player of his talent manages to be severely underrated by some fans of the club he plays for. I could understand it from an outside perspective, but from people who watch every game it's really puzzling.

He's ****ing 20 years old. Look up whatever player you'd want to replace him with and compare what they were doing at 20 to Saka. Someone like Bernardo Silva was on loan at Monaco as a squad player ffs, and Kevin De Bruyne was loaned out to Werder Bremen from Chelsea.

He's an elite talent, I guess some people just get bored by their toys really quickly, always looking for that new fix.

Top posting mate. This fella is Arsenal through and through, only 20 years old and a ****ing baller. We are so lucky to have him here. I see people talking bout him "stagnating" and him not "being all that". Are people really that clueless?
 

Maybe

You're wrong, no?
I think some people had really strong opinions of him when he broke through and they just can't let it go lol. I remember someone said Saka was nowhere close to Sterling when he was at Liverpool and yet Saka at the same age as Sterling just before he left Liverpool had more g/a than him in the league, even though Sterling played in a more explosive attacking team.
Sterling was doing loads of fancy tricks while Saka tries to be effective, keeping things simple. Sterling changed his game being at City, now they look very similar in style
 

DJ_Markstar

Established Member

Player: Martinelli
He needs a proper rival for that RW spot or he’ll stagnate.

Feel he’s too comfortable right now.
Depends on his psychology tbh, some players need that kick up the arse, others need to feel loved and "the man" in order to perform.
 

Dokaka

AM's resident Hammer
Depends on his psychology tbh, some players need that kick up the arse, others need to feel loved and "the man" in order to perform.

There's also really intense competition for his spot in the England starting XI. Loads of great young wingers that'll develop alongside him for the next decade, should motivate him to keep working.
 

Taylor Gang Gunners

Say Yeh or You're Making The List
Trusted ⭐
Makes an impact on the majority of our games already which is wonderful for him and us.

Every now and then I forget how young he is and that he could still improve considerably.

Then I get excited all over again.
 

Nacho

World Famous Luchador
Dusted 🔻
1660344655148.png


Saka’s changing roles at Arsenal explained: From Overlapper to Wide Threat​


Art de Roché, John Muller and more
Aug 10, 2022

Bukayo Saka has been Arsenal’s most flexible player since his breakthrough season. He started as a tricky winger, became an effective overlapping full-back and then established himself as a driving force in the final third again last term.

His value to manager Mikel Arteta is clear, but how much can this be quantified by numbers?

The Athletic’s brand new player roles analysis provides a more detailed view of a player’s tactical role, driven by the quantifiable actions they make on the pitch rather than subjective positions that are dictated by starting formations.

Arsenal have players who appear in the same position but carry out different roles, so lumping them into the same category does not necessarily work. For example, Kieran Tierney is more of an Overlapping left-back, while Oleksandr Zinchenko operates in half-spaces more often as a Progressor of the ball.

So, what did we do? Put simply, The Athletic has developed its own unique set of 18 player roles across the pitch using StatsBomb data (via FBref), which covers players from the big five European leagues over the past five seasons.

This is presented across six overarching roles (eg, central attackers, wide attackers, advanced midfielders), before then being broken down into three further categories for each one (e.g. Finisher, Target, Roamer). This separates Erling Haaland from Harry Kane, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin from Roberto Firmino.

Updated-Sunburst-1024x1024.png


Despite breaking into the first team on the wing under Unai Emery in 2019, Saka spent the majority of that season filling in for the injured Sead Kolasinac and Tierney at left-back (both as a full-back in a back four and wing-back in a three/five).

That is seen in the graphic below. During his first full season in senior football, he was more of an Overlapper — a full-back/wing-back who gets around their winger and into the final third to cross into the box.

Bukayo-Saka_role_over_time-1024x683.png


By contrast, the 20-year-old’s role has evolved depending on the needs of the team since the 2019-20 campaign.

The pivotal change to a 4-2-3-1 came the following season, on Boxing Day 2020 against Chelsea. The new formation saw Saka line up on the right wing and from there, he developed more into a Wide Threat — a player who stretches the back line, gets into the penalty area and is as comfortable supplying the final ball as they are finishing it.

He fulfilled the role of a Wide Threat more last season (54 per cent) compared to 37 per cent in 2020-21 and his influence on Arsenal’s attack last term was clear by October; he was ranked in the top two at the club for touches in the attacking third, successful dribbles, carries and progressive distance alongside Emile Smith Rowe.

That was noticeable in September 2021’s north London derby win.

Receiving the ball in the final third, Saka drives into the penalty area with Sergio Reguilion at his mercy.

https://cdn.theathletic.com/app/uploads/2022/08/10103415/Emile-Smith-Rowe-goal-vs-Sp**s-1-1024x576.png

Teasing the left-back before going round the outside, he is then able to assist Smith Rowe to open the scoring.

https://cdn.theathletic.com/app/uploads/2022/08/10103454/Emile-Smith-Rowe-goal-vs-Sp**s-2.png

Twenty minutes later, he then scored after receiving the ball from Smith Rowe in a similar position.

Staying high and wide was essential to Saka truly becoming a Wide Threat for Arsenal last season.

Often, when the team were building attacks from the back with Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Ødegaard, he would be positioned wide on the halfway line, waiting to be unleashed — Alexandre Lacazette’s goal against Southampton was the best example (see below).




This benefited Arsenal as recently as their opening day win over Crystal Palace. Eddie Nketiah spread the ball to Saka who pinned Tyrick Mitchell in a one-v-one inside the box before his cross was deflected in to make it 2-0.



An adaptable player, Saka still fulfils multiple roles when used on the right wing. The initial graphic shows the 20-year-old is also a decent Outlet — someone who receives dangerous passes, has a lot of touches in midfield as well as further forward and draws a lot of fouls.

Unsurprisingly, he was Arsenal’s most fouled player in the Premier League (with 123 won) across the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. Containing this to the final third, he is still top with 46 fouls won (the fourth highest in the league during that time).

That comes from a mix of being heavily marked/targeted and superb technical ability. For instance, last season Saka began using his back foot to receive the ball on the touchline more often.

When it works, he creates bigger spaces to exploit. At other times, left-backs may choose to foul so he cannot get in behind, as Ashley Young did during Arsenal’s visit to Villa Park last season.

Bukayo-Saka-back-foot-vs-Aston-Villa-1-1024x576.png


Bukayo-Saka-back-foot-vs-Aston-Villa-2-1024x576.png


As ever, sometimes roles may blend in different phases of play. This is most prevalent with Saka when he combines with Ødegaard on the right.

He may start as an Outlet receiving the ball in the middle third, carrying it and then trading passes with Ødegaard to get into the final third and either shoot or create a chance. This happened frequently against West Ham United at home, Wolverhampton Wanderers away and, most notably, Watford away in the build-up to Ødegaard’s goal.

That versatility in his play is why his most recent role specification falls under Wide Threat only 54 per cent of the time. Over a season, which is the time period this model is based on, he will also perform other roles, which was most evident in 2020-21.

Tierney and Kolasinac were used as left wing-backs and left centre-backs when Arteta played a 3-4-3 in the first half of that season, overlapping from both positions. During this period, Saka would drift inside and be more of an Unlocker — a player who breaks into the opponent’s half and provides crosses and penetrative forward passes.

Arsenal’s 2-1 win over West Ham in September 2020 is a prime example, with the England international key to both goals. For the first, he is in stood in the half-space demanding the ball from Granit Xhaka while Kolasinac (left centre-back that day) is on the touchline.

Bukayo-Saka-through-ball-vs-West-Ham-1-1024x576.png


Receiving under pressure, Saka does well to ride a challenge before sliding the ball through to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, unlocking the West Ham defence.

Bukayo-Saka-through-ball-vs-West-Ham-2-1024x576.png


This saw Aubameyang clip the ball into the box for Lacazette to score a header and make it 1-0. Later in the game, Saka received the ball on the touchline, drove inside and clipped another through ball into the box for Dani Ceballos to square to Eddie Nketiah who made it 2-1.

A 19-year-old Saka driving through that left half-space became a theme of the first half of that season. His performances home and away to Manchester City that year were particularly memorable because of this.

Saka will not be the only player to whom these differences in roles can be applied — Tierney and Zinchenko have different demands at left-back, for example.

In midfield, Xhaka has been asked to play in different ways by managers. Notably, he was used more in build-up play when Arteta first joined Arsenal, before moving into more advanced areas at the back-end of last season.

From an Arsenal perspective, it may be a useful way to interpret how different players who are played in the “same positions” are used throughout this season. Saka, as we have seen, is not only adaptable in terms of position, but player roles too — another way of underlining his talent once more.
 

Hunta

Shivering Right Now
Trusted ⭐
View attachment 8450


Saka’s changing roles at Arsenal explained: From Overlapper to Wide Threat​


Art de Roché, John Muller and more
Aug 10, 2022

Bukayo Saka has been Arsenal’s most flexible player since his breakthrough season. He started as a tricky winger, became an effective overlapping full-back and then established himself as a driving force in the final third again last term.

His value to manager Mikel Arteta is clear, but how much can this be quantified by numbers?

The Athletic’s brand new player roles analysis provides a more detailed view of a player’s tactical role, driven by the quantifiable actions they make on the pitch rather than subjective positions that are dictated by starting formations.

Arsenal have players who appear in the same position but carry out different roles, so lumping them into the same category does not necessarily work. For example, Kieran Tierney is more of an Overlapping left-back, while Oleksandr Zinchenko operates in half-spaces more often as a Progressor of the ball.

So, what did we do? Put simply, The Athletic has developed its own unique set of 18 player roles across the pitch using StatsBomb data (via FBref), which covers players from the big five European leagues over the past five seasons.

This is presented across six overarching roles (eg, central attackers, wide attackers, advanced midfielders), before then being broken down into three further categories for each one (e.g. Finisher, Target, Roamer). This separates Erling Haaland from Harry Kane, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin from Roberto Firmino.

Updated-Sunburst-1024x1024.png


Despite breaking into the first team on the wing under Unai Emery in 2019, Saka spent the majority of that season filling in for the injured Sead Kolasinac and Tierney at left-back (both as a full-back in a back four and wing-back in a three/five).

That is seen in the graphic below. During his first full season in senior football, he was more of an Overlapper — a full-back/wing-back who gets around their winger and into the final third to cross into the box.

Bukayo-Saka_role_over_time-1024x683.png


By contrast, the 20-year-old’s role has evolved depending on the needs of the team since the 2019-20 campaign.

The pivotal change to a 4-2-3-1 came the following season, on Boxing Day 2020 against Chelsea. The new formation saw Saka line up on the right wing and from there, he developed more into a Wide Threat — a player who stretches the back line, gets into the penalty area and is as comfortable supplying the final ball as they are finishing it.

He fulfilled the role of a Wide Threat more last season (54 per cent) compared to 37 per cent in 2020-21 and his influence on Arsenal’s attack last term was clear by October; he was ranked in the top two at the club for touches in the attacking third, successful dribbles, carries and progressive distance alongside Emile Smith Rowe.

That was noticeable in September 2021’s north London derby win.

Receiving the ball in the final third, Saka drives into the penalty area with Sergio Reguilion at his mercy.

Emile-Smith-Rowe-goal-vs-Sp**s-1-1024x576.png


Teasing the left-back before going round the outside, he is then able to assist Smith Rowe to open the scoring.

Emile-Smith-Rowe-goal-vs-Sp**s-2.png


Twenty minutes later, he then scored after receiving the ball from Smith Rowe in a similar position.

Staying high and wide was essential to Saka truly becoming a Wide Threat for Arsenal last season.

Often, when the team were building attacks from the back with Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Ødegaard, he would be positioned wide on the halfway line, waiting to be unleashed — Alexandre Lacazette’s goal against Southampton was the best example (see below).




This benefited Arsenal as recently as their opening day win over Crystal Palace. Eddie Nketiah spread the ball to Saka who pinned Tyrick Mitchell in a one-v-one inside the box before his cross was deflected in to make it 2-0.



An adaptable player, Saka still fulfils multiple roles when used on the right wing. The initial graphic shows the 20-year-old is also a decent Outlet — someone who receives dangerous passes, has a lot of touches in midfield as well as further forward and draws a lot of fouls.

Unsurprisingly, he was Arsenal’s most fouled player in the Premier League (with 123 won) across the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. Containing this to the final third, he is still top with 46 fouls won (the fourth highest in the league during that time).

That comes from a mix of being heavily marked/targeted and superb technical ability. For instance, last season Saka began using his back foot to receive the ball on the touchline more often.

When it works, he creates bigger spaces to exploit. At other times, left-backs may choose to foul so he cannot get in behind, as Ashley Young did during Arsenal’s visit to Villa Park last season.

Bukayo-Saka-back-foot-vs-Aston-Villa-1-1024x576.png


Bukayo-Saka-back-foot-vs-Aston-Villa-2-1024x576.png


As ever, sometimes roles may blend in different phases of play. This is most prevalent with Saka when he combines with Ødegaard on the right.

He may start as an Outlet receiving the ball in the middle third, carrying it and then trading passes with Ødegaard to get into the final third and either shoot or create a chance. This happened frequently against West Ham United at home, Wolverhampton Wanderers away and, most notably, Watford away in the build-up to Ødegaard’s goal.

That versatility in his play is why his most recent role specification falls under Wide Threat only 54 per cent of the time. Over a season, which is the time period this model is based on, he will also perform other roles, which was most evident in 2020-21.

Tierney and Kolasinac were used as left wing-backs and left centre-backs when Arteta played a 3-4-3 in the first half of that season, overlapping from both positions. During this period, Saka would drift inside and be more of an Unlocker — a player who breaks into the opponent’s half and provides crosses and penetrative forward passes.

Arsenal’s 2-1 win over West Ham in September 2020 is a prime example, with the England international key to both goals. For the first, he is in stood in the half-space demanding the ball from Granit Xhaka while Kolasinac (left centre-back that day) is on the touchline.

Bukayo-Saka-through-ball-vs-West-Ham-1-1024x576.png


Receiving under pressure, Saka does well to ride a challenge before sliding the ball through to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, unlocking the West Ham defence.

Bukayo-Saka-through-ball-vs-West-Ham-2-1024x576.png


This saw Aubameyang clip the ball into the box for Lacazette to score a header and make it 1-0. Later in the game, Saka received the ball on the touchline, drove inside and clipped another through ball into the box for Dani Ceballos to square to Eddie Nketiah who made it 2-1.

A 19-year-old Saka driving through that left half-space became a theme of the first half of that season. His performances home and away to Manchester City that year were particularly memorable because of this.

Saka will not be the only player to whom these differences in roles can be applied — Tierney and Zinchenko have different demands at left-back, for example.

In midfield, Xhaka has been asked to play in different ways by managers. Notably, he was used more in build-up play when Arteta first joined Arsenal, before moving into more advanced areas at the back-end of last season.

From an Arsenal perspective, it may be a useful way to interpret how different players who are played in the “same positions” are used throughout this season. Saka, as we have seen, is not only adaptable in terms of position, but player roles too — another way of underlining his talent once more.
Haven’t read it yet but your service doesn’t go unnoticed my good sir. 🧑‍✈️
 

razörist

Soft With The Ladies, Hard With The Mes
View attachment 8450


Saka’s changing roles at Arsenal explained: From Overlapper to Wide Threat​


Art de Roché, John Muller and more
Aug 10, 2022

Bukayo Saka has been Arsenal’s most flexible player since his breakthrough season. He started as a tricky winger, became an effective overlapping full-back and then established himself as a driving force in the final third again last term.

His value to manager Mikel Arteta is clear, but how much can this be quantified by numbers?

The Athletic’s brand new player roles analysis provides a more detailed view of a player’s tactical role, driven by the quantifiable actions they make on the pitch rather than subjective positions that are dictated by starting formations.

Arsenal have players who appear in the same position but carry out different roles, so lumping them into the same category does not necessarily work. For example, Kieran Tierney is more of an Overlapping left-back, while Oleksandr Zinchenko operates in half-spaces more often as a Progressor of the ball.

So, what did we do? Put simply, The Athletic has developed its own unique set of 18 player roles across the pitch using StatsBomb data (via FBref), which covers players from the big five European leagues over the past five seasons.

This is presented across six overarching roles (eg, central attackers, wide attackers, advanced midfielders), before then being broken down into three further categories for each one (e.g. Finisher, Target, Roamer). This separates Erling Haaland from Harry Kane, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin from Roberto Firmino.

Updated-Sunburst-1024x1024.png


Despite breaking into the first team on the wing under Unai Emery in 2019, Saka spent the majority of that season filling in for the injured Sead Kolasinac and Tierney at left-back (both as a full-back in a back four and wing-back in a three/five).

That is seen in the graphic below. During his first full season in senior football, he was more of an Overlapper — a full-back/wing-back who gets around their winger and into the final third to cross into the box.

Bukayo-Saka_role_over_time-1024x683.png


By contrast, the 20-year-old’s role has evolved depending on the needs of the team since the 2019-20 campaign.

The pivotal change to a 4-2-3-1 came the following season, on Boxing Day 2020 against Chelsea. The new formation saw Saka line up on the right wing and from there, he developed more into a Wide Threat — a player who stretches the back line, gets into the penalty area and is as comfortable supplying the final ball as they are finishing it.

He fulfilled the role of a Wide Threat more last season (54 per cent) compared to 37 per cent in 2020-21 and his influence on Arsenal’s attack last term was clear by October; he was ranked in the top two at the club for touches in the attacking third, successful dribbles, carries and progressive distance alongside Emile Smith Rowe.

That was noticeable in September 2021’s north London derby win.

Receiving the ball in the final third, Saka drives into the penalty area with Sergio Reguilion at his mercy.

Emile-Smith-Rowe-goal-vs-Sp**s-1-1024x576.png


Teasing the left-back before going round the outside, he is then able to assist Smith Rowe to open the scoring.

Emile-Smith-Rowe-goal-vs-Sp**s-2.png


Twenty minutes later, he then scored after receiving the ball from Smith Rowe in a similar position.

Staying high and wide was essential to Saka truly becoming a Wide Threat for Arsenal last season.

Often, when the team were building attacks from the back with Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Ødegaard, he would be positioned wide on the halfway line, waiting to be unleashed — Alexandre Lacazette’s goal against Southampton was the best example (see below).




This benefited Arsenal as recently as their opening day win over Crystal Palace. Eddie Nketiah spread the ball to Saka who pinned Tyrick Mitchell in a one-v-one inside the box before his cross was deflected in to make it 2-0.



An adaptable player, Saka still fulfils multiple roles when used on the right wing. The initial graphic shows the 20-year-old is also a decent Outlet — someone who receives dangerous passes, has a lot of touches in midfield as well as further forward and draws a lot of fouls.

Unsurprisingly, he was Arsenal’s most fouled player in the Premier League (with 123 won) across the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. Containing this to the final third, he is still top with 46 fouls won (the fourth highest in the league during that time).

That comes from a mix of being heavily marked/targeted and superb technical ability. For instance, last season Saka began using his back foot to receive the ball on the touchline more often.

When it works, he creates bigger spaces to exploit. At other times, left-backs may choose to foul so he cannot get in behind, as Ashley Young did during Arsenal’s visit to Villa Park last season.

Bukayo-Saka-back-foot-vs-Aston-Villa-1-1024x576.png


Bukayo-Saka-back-foot-vs-Aston-Villa-2-1024x576.png


As ever, sometimes roles may blend in different phases of play. This is most prevalent with Saka when he combines with Ødegaard on the right.

He may start as an Outlet receiving the ball in the middle third, carrying it and then trading passes with Ødegaard to get into the final third and either shoot or create a chance. This happened frequently against West Ham United at home, Wolverhampton Wanderers away and, most notably, Watford away in the build-up to Ødegaard’s goal.

That versatility in his play is why his most recent role specification falls under Wide Threat only 54 per cent of the time. Over a season, which is the time period this model is based on, he will also perform other roles, which was most evident in 2020-21.

Tierney and Kolasinac were used as left wing-backs and left centre-backs when Arteta played a 3-4-3 in the first half of that season, overlapping from both positions. During this period, Saka would drift inside and be more of an Unlocker — a player who breaks into the opponent’s half and provides crosses and penetrative forward passes.

Arsenal’s 2-1 win over West Ham in September 2020 is a prime example, with the England international key to both goals. For the first, he is in stood in the half-space demanding the ball from Granit Xhaka while Kolasinac (left centre-back that day) is on the touchline.

Bukayo-Saka-through-ball-vs-West-Ham-1-1024x576.png


Receiving under pressure, Saka does well to ride a challenge before sliding the ball through to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, unlocking the West Ham defence.

Bukayo-Saka-through-ball-vs-West-Ham-2-1024x576.png


This saw Aubameyang clip the ball into the box for Lacazette to score a header and make it 1-0. Later in the game, Saka received the ball on the touchline, drove inside and clipped another through ball into the box for Dani Ceballos to square to Eddie Nketiah who made it 2-1.

A 19-year-old Saka driving through that left half-space became a theme of the first half of that season. His performances home and away to Manchester City that year were particularly memorable because of this.

Saka will not be the only player to whom these differences in roles can be applied — Tierney and Zinchenko have different demands at left-back, for example.

In midfield, Xhaka has been asked to play in different ways by managers. Notably, he was used more in build-up play when Arteta first joined Arsenal, before moving into more advanced areas at the back-end of last season.

From an Arsenal perspective, it may be a useful way to interpret how different players who are played in the “same positions” are used throughout this season. Saka, as we have seen, is not only adaptable in terms of position, but player roles too — another way of underlining his talent once more.
Thank you
 

Taylor Gang Gunners

Say Yeh or You're Making The List
Trusted ⭐
View attachment 8450


Saka’s changing roles at Arsenal explained: From Overlapper to Wide Threat​


Art de Roché, John Muller and more
Aug 10, 2022

Bukayo Saka has been Arsenal’s most flexible player since his breakthrough season. He started as a tricky winger, became an effective overlapping full-back and then established himself as a driving force in the final third again last term.

His value to manager Mikel Arteta is clear, but how much can this be quantified by numbers?

The Athletic’s brand new player roles analysis provides a more detailed view of a player’s tactical role, driven by the quantifiable actions they make on the pitch rather than subjective positions that are dictated by starting formations.

Arsenal have players who appear in the same position but carry out different roles, so lumping them into the same category does not necessarily work. For example, Kieran Tierney is more of an Overlapping left-back, while Oleksandr Zinchenko operates in half-spaces more often as a Progressor of the ball.

So, what did we do? Put simply, The Athletic has developed its own unique set of 18 player roles across the pitch using StatsBomb data (via FBref), which covers players from the big five European leagues over the past five seasons.

This is presented across six overarching roles (eg, central attackers, wide attackers, advanced midfielders), before then being broken down into three further categories for each one (e.g. Finisher, Target, Roamer). This separates Erling Haaland from Harry Kane, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin from Roberto Firmino.

Updated-Sunburst-1024x1024.png


Despite breaking into the first team on the wing under Unai Emery in 2019, Saka spent the majority of that season filling in for the injured Sead Kolasinac and Tierney at left-back (both as a full-back in a back four and wing-back in a three/five).

That is seen in the graphic below. During his first full season in senior football, he was more of an Overlapper — a full-back/wing-back who gets around their winger and into the final third to cross into the box.

Bukayo-Saka_role_over_time-1024x683.png


By contrast, the 20-year-old’s role has evolved depending on the needs of the team since the 2019-20 campaign.

The pivotal change to a 4-2-3-1 came the following season, on Boxing Day 2020 against Chelsea. The new formation saw Saka line up on the right wing and from there, he developed more into a Wide Threat — a player who stretches the back line, gets into the penalty area and is as comfortable supplying the final ball as they are finishing it.

He fulfilled the role of a Wide Threat more last season (54 per cent) compared to 37 per cent in 2020-21 and his influence on Arsenal’s attack last term was clear by October; he was ranked in the top two at the club for touches in the attacking third, successful dribbles, carries and progressive distance alongside Emile Smith Rowe.

That was noticeable in September 2021’s north London derby win.

Receiving the ball in the final third, Saka drives into the penalty area with Sergio Reguilion at his mercy.

Emile-Smith-Rowe-goal-vs-Sp**s-1-1024x576.png


Teasing the left-back before going round the outside, he is then able to assist Smith Rowe to open the scoring.

Emile-Smith-Rowe-goal-vs-Sp**s-2.png


Twenty minutes later, he then scored after receiving the ball from Smith Rowe in a similar position.

Staying high and wide was essential to Saka truly becoming a Wide Threat for Arsenal last season.

Often, when the team were building attacks from the back with Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Ødegaard, he would be positioned wide on the halfway line, waiting to be unleashed — Alexandre Lacazette’s goal against Southampton was the best example (see below).




This benefited Arsenal as recently as their opening day win over Crystal Palace. Eddie Nketiah spread the ball to Saka who pinned Tyrick Mitchell in a one-v-one inside the box before his cross was deflected in to make it 2-0.



An adaptable player, Saka still fulfils multiple roles when used on the right wing. The initial graphic shows the 20-year-old is also a decent Outlet — someone who receives dangerous passes, has a lot of touches in midfield as well as further forward and draws a lot of fouls.

Unsurprisingly, he was Arsenal’s most fouled player in the Premier League (with 123 won) across the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. Containing this to the final third, he is still top with 46 fouls won (the fourth highest in the league during that time).

That comes from a mix of being heavily marked/targeted and superb technical ability. For instance, last season Saka began using his back foot to receive the ball on the touchline more often.

When it works, he creates bigger spaces to exploit. At other times, left-backs may choose to foul so he cannot get in behind, as Ashley Young did during Arsenal’s visit to Villa Park last season.

Bukayo-Saka-back-foot-vs-Aston-Villa-1-1024x576.png


Bukayo-Saka-back-foot-vs-Aston-Villa-2-1024x576.png


As ever, sometimes roles may blend in different phases of play. This is most prevalent with Saka when he combines with Ødegaard on the right.

He may start as an Outlet receiving the ball in the middle third, carrying it and then trading passes with Ødegaard to get into the final third and either shoot or create a chance. This happened frequently against West Ham United at home, Wolverhampton Wanderers away and, most notably, Watford away in the build-up to Ødegaard’s goal.

That versatility in his play is why his most recent role specification falls under Wide Threat only 54 per cent of the time. Over a season, which is the time period this model is based on, he will also perform other roles, which was most evident in 2020-21.

Tierney and Kolasinac were used as left wing-backs and left centre-backs when Arteta played a 3-4-3 in the first half of that season, overlapping from both positions. During this period, Saka would drift inside and be more of an Unlocker — a player who breaks into the opponent’s half and provides crosses and penetrative forward passes.

Arsenal’s 2-1 win over West Ham in September 2020 is a prime example, with the England international key to both goals. For the first, he is in stood in the half-space demanding the ball from Granit Xhaka while Kolasinac (left centre-back that day) is on the touchline.

Bukayo-Saka-through-ball-vs-West-Ham-1-1024x576.png


Receiving under pressure, Saka does well to ride a challenge before sliding the ball through to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, unlocking the West Ham defence.

Bukayo-Saka-through-ball-vs-West-Ham-2-1024x576.png


This saw Aubameyang clip the ball into the box for Lacazette to score a header and make it 1-0. Later in the game, Saka received the ball on the touchline, drove inside and clipped another through ball into the box for Dani Ceballos to square to Eddie Nketiah who made it 2-1.

A 19-year-old Saka driving through that left half-space became a theme of the first half of that season. His performances home and away to Manchester City that year were particularly memorable because of this.

Saka will not be the only player to whom these differences in roles can be applied — Tierney and Zinchenko have different demands at left-back, for example.

In midfield, Xhaka has been asked to play in different ways by managers. Notably, he was used more in build-up play when Arteta first joined Arsenal, before moving into more advanced areas at the back-end of last season.

From an Arsenal perspective, it may be a useful way to interpret how different players who are played in the “same positions” are used throughout this season. Saka, as we have seen, is not only adaptable in terms of position, but player roles too — another way of underlining his talent once more.

Lovely read. Cheers.
 

Geofranco

Well-Known Member

Player: Saka
He looked drunk at times in that second half 😂. Probably not having too great a time with white as the fullback, but I'm not worried about Saka. I know he'll come good very soon.
 

Rattata

Active Member
Him and Ødegaard will come good. The right back situation isn't great and unless we keep BNC and he explodes it won't change much this season.
Cedric is the only RB in our squad that can play the attacking RB role and he's 3rd choice right now.
 

Yousif Arsenal

On Vinai's payroll & misses 4th place trophy 🏆
Moderator
That's why we need another winger so saka don't get comfertable as talented he is the RW shouldn't be his if he preform like that but with competition it'll force him to play better.
 
Not gonna say he was 9/10 or anything, but on a different day, he could have had three goal involvements:

Cross that Xhaka couldn't quite squeeze in at the near post was DeBruyne quality.

Wide open for a tap-in on Jesus' (second?) attempt at the hat-trick. Don't blame a striker for taking the chance in that situation, but there's a good chance a different choice gets made at 0-0.

Dribble and shot forces a really good save with a rebound that Jesus probably still can't believe he missed.

Sub-par performance from what we've come to expect, but if he's producing those moments on a bad day it'll be a long time before I want to see anyone else at RW.
 

Entropics

Well-Known Member

Player: Lokonga
He wasn't involved in our goals as usual, a weird situation but we did well taking full advantage of the left side with Fofana playing so distracted
 

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People say why I did lie on the floor after the goal, they think I was tired. But I think I was a lot cleverer than people thought.

Charlie George reveals it was all a time-wasting plan after the double winning goal

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