Despite being a teenager, academy graduate Bukayo Saka already looks one of the most important individuals at the Emirates Stadium and he’s stepped up massively this season.
The Englishman was a hit last year with his first-team breakthrough at the North London club, but now the majority of Arsenal’s positive play goes through him on a weekly basis.
And yet, at just 19, that is exactly the responsibility that has fallen on starlet Bukayo Saka because, without him stepping up, heaven knows the mess Arsenal would be in right now.
Mikel Arteta’s side are 13th, still very much underachieving, but take Bukayo Saka out of the equation and this side would lose plenty.
It was Saka’s ball to Alexandre Lacazette on Tuesday night that proved decisive, the Frenchman scoring the only goal to down Brighton & Hove Albion.
Before provided an assist for Alexandre Lacazette, he set up a brilliant cross for Aubameyang but it was goalkeeper Robert Sanchez denied Gabon striker to scored his 58 Premier League goals.
Saka, who won back-to-back man-of-the-match award in Gunners last two league fixtures scored his first senior goal against Eintracht Frankfurt in September 2019 and since then he has become a permanent fixture in the first-team set-up.
Saka’s influence, which was on full display against Brighton at the AMEX Stadium on Tuesday night, is best evidenced in one stat: Since the start of last season, Saka, 19, has provided 15 assists in all competitions for Arsenal – more than any of his team-mates.
So not only is Saka fearless, relaxed on the pitch around players he has grown up watching, he is indisputably the best provider in Mikel Arteta’s squad since the start of the 2019-20 campaign.
Not that Bukayo Saka is doing it for individual accolades but the recognition is already there across Europe and on the international circuit.
Back in October the 19-year-old Englishman was named on the 20-man shortlist for Tuttosport’s Golden Boy award. It was eventually won by Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland but finishing ninth, Saka finished ahead of Man City winger Ferran Torres and Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood.
Bukayo Saka’s game by numbers vs. Brighton:
9 penalty area entries
8 duels won
4 ball recoveries
4 touches in the opp. box
3 chances created
2 take-ons completed
2 tackles made
19 years old. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/08YOQ1lWB6
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 29, 2020