4 reasons for Saka’s drop in form – But Arsenal need him back to his best to face Tottenham

What’s Going on With Bukayo Saka?

 

In a summer where Bukayo Saka’s reputation as Arsenal’s prized jewel has been enhanced to England’s latest sweetheart, one might be forgiven for assuming that the young unicorn rider would hit the ground running when the new Premier League season started. After all, Bukayo was one of the very few Arsenal stars who inspired some hope and confidence in Arsenal fans across the world, with his explosive dribbling and a fearless smile. There are popular players in every camp, at club or at international level, but very rarely have so many teammates waxed lyrical about a 19-year-old (now 20) playing his first handful of games for his team. However, Bukayo’s start to the season has been underwhelming by his own lofty standards, due to several possible reasons:

Euro 2020 Pain

Winning the Euro 2020 would have been a fairytale ending to Saka’s season, who would not have dreamed of playing in England’s first major tournament final in 51 years. Ending up on the losing side in such a massive game, at home, in a penalty shoot-out, having gone ahead earlier in the game, would have been soul-crushing for the entire team. This  was made even more traumatic for the United pair Rashford & Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who had to suffer racial abuse from their own fans in the aftermath of their missed penalties in the shoot-out.

While Saka and co. have received a lot of support from the football community, so much so that even Spurs fans greeted him with warmth in pre-season, the whole experience must have left some scars on his mind. But Saka seems like a smart young man with good people around him and should be able to use his summer experience to grow stronger.

Rustiness and lack of proper pre-season

Saka’s first appearance of the pre-season was on 8th August, coming on as a 63rd minute substitute at the Toilet Bowl Arena Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, almost a month after Arsenal’s first pre-season game on 13th July. He’s featured in all Arsenal games this season despite a truncated pre-season (after making 57 appearances for club and country in the 20-21 season) and it is fair to say that he hasn’t been at his best so far. His touch has been heavy and has been unable to have the kind of impact on the game as we know he can. However, with no European football this season, he should have more time to recover and get sharper over the next few weeks.

Still a very young player

The Arsenal No. 7 might be one of the most promising youngsters to ever rise from the Arsenal Academy, and such has been his ascent and importance to the current Arsenal side that we may overlook the fact that he only turned 20 a few weeks ago, [you can insert your own joke as to what you were doing when you were his age]. As is perfectly normal with young players, the trajectory of growth is hardly ever linear; there will be small periods from time to time with slightly dipped form, but we all know what the lad is capable of and what better time to remind everyone of his quality than with a hat-trick against that lot at the weekend.

Difficult start to Arsenal’s season

With Arsenal putting up subpar performances in the first 3 premier league games, with 0 points and 0 goals scored, 2 of them against the European and English champions, it was hardly a great platform for Saka to shine with minimal control and possession of the ball. Opposition teams don’t really need a degree in sports to see the importance of Saka to Arsenal and the sight of defenders sticking tightly to him during the game has become fairly common. Additionally, Saka played his best football last season from the right wing which has been occupied by Nicolas Pepe this season and while Saka is perfectly capable of playing in all three roles behind the striker, it might do him and Arsenal some good if Pepe and Saka interchanged their positions more frequently during the game.

Despite a ‘difficult’ start to the new season for Saka, he did score a lovely goal in the League Cup against West Bromwich Albion and was heavily involved in both the Arsenal goals in the Premier league so far, with his movement and turn keeping the ball alive for Aubameyang to ultimately score the winner against Norwich, and winning the free kick against Burnley from which Odegaard scored last Saturday.

While one would expect Bukayo Saka to regain his form soon, it would be very welcome for Arsenal fans if he started the process this weekend against Spurs, because he is the brightest spark to the Arsenal fire that must rise to at least the European places in the table this season.

 

Arnav Singh

Tags Saka tottenham

11 Comments

  1. Dennis says:

    He should be used as a sub going forward until he regains his form.

  2. kev says:

    Its time for Tavares to get his chance He can play as a winger. Saka and Pepe have been poor. Auba has also struggled a lot because in that CF position as he’s highly service reliant. I still maintain that in a side creating lot of clear cut chances he will score loads and miss as much as well. His confidence is low too. I hope after this season people open their eyes about the winger we got. He’s not going to morph into this world class player some think he well. His individual game was never there.

  3. Val says:

    i think its abit harsh to say Saka has dropped in form and heres why.

    Brentford – came on late as a sub

    City and Chelsea – we had to defend for most of the game, but when he got the ball in good areas he tried to be positive but the whole team was outclassed and with Chelsea we were down to 10 men for 50+ minutes

    Nowich, he was decent but again, it was a very nervy team performance, you could sense the anxiety on the pitch and in the crowd.

    Burnley – Saka is great at transitioning play, he can turn and run at players and is direct, this is what he is good at.
    He’s not that great in tighter spaces and getting closed down quickly in the final 3rd, thats what Ode and ESR are for, Auba doesnt help saka in this regard as very often, Saka or Pepe or even White would look up for Auba aaaaand hes not there, hes deep so no chance to get him inbehind or to get him on the ball to hold it up so our attack stops, we go backwards and we all sigh..

    Personally I dont think he’s out of form like people are saying, its more about a few different factors regarding who we’ve played and nothing more.

    Spurs, i think will be alot more open and will suit Saka and Pepe to be able to play their game

  4. Theo says:

    Some Arsenal fans had been indiscriminately critical of this team. I will like to point your attention to the following:
    1. The team at dead end before the match against Brentford were dealt with a blow that none of their senior strikers would be available , No Partey , Saka could not start and players prepared where not ready and players not in plan for the match had to come in . If that happened a week before the Brentford game that would not be the case.
    2. Against Chelsea just imagine there was no Lukaku ,Mari would have been at least okay and we would not loose. Also imagine against Chelsea we had Tomiyasu,Gabriel ,White and Partey that game will not have ended 2 – 0 . We all saw what these same Brentford and Chelsea did to Wolves and Spurs .
    3. Now we have Partey ,Tomi, White , Tierney, Lacca ,Auba, Saka, MArtins, all fit and kept 2 clean sheets already and people are still not happy complaining about how we played . If we had played well and lost or drew everybody will be screaming for the manager’s head. What I have seen in those two games is a team trying to be cautious to get some level of wins ,get out of un due pressure and start expression of their swags . I do not expect them to fly out against spurs also . Caution is needed just to grind out at least five wins in a row and then start playing the way we love to play

    1. Declan says:

      IF??
      1. If my aunt had a certain appendage she would be my uncle.
      2. Ditto.
      3. 5 wins in a row? If you are counting the behind closed doors friendly game against Brentford as one of those wins then you are stretching things a bit, or are you assuming we will beat Wimbledon as the 4th win?

    2. Grandad says:

      Since he arrived I have been pressing for Pepe to be played as a conventional left winger where he will be more effective for a number of reasons which I shall not go into as the subject of the article is Saka.Apart from suffering from physical and mental fatigue, the dilemma for Arteta is finding a role for the young man where he can use his strengths to best advantage.Like Val, I feel his best asset ,which is the way he commits defenders on the half turn at speed is when we are on the counter attack.He has not yet developed the ball control to retain possession when under pressure in tight spaces, but I am sure he will improve in this area,as will his first touch.In due course I would not be surprised if he developed into an attacking midfielder as he has the drive and pace to be successful in such a role.After what he has been through recently I think we need to cut him some slack and exercise patience and some understanding until he regains his vitality ,hopefully on Sunday.

  5. O.T.S says:

    It is crystal clear even to the blind that pepe and saka need to change pos. Pepe has always been superb playing in the left-wing than the right and I suppose saka likewise is very good playing in the right. In the few games saka has played this season I realized that he had been targeted solely by defenders likewise pepe, where two to three players mark only him. But I assume that by them changing their usual position it actually makes them unpredictable.

    1. Yossarian says:

      I agree. Pepe can look more dangerous on the left, and Saka more so on the right.

      1. gooner4life says:

        Of course Pepe is better on the left because he is a left footed player and needs to constantly get the ball on his left foot which hinders him when he is on the right side because if he dribbles to the bye line he has to check to cut back to get the ball onto his left foot before crossing or shooting, by which time defenders are back in position to block or tackle him. It’s nor rocket science play to each players strengths. The same goes for right footed players play on the right side.

  6. gunnerforlife says:

    Saka is not necessarily out of form but certain circumstances and game situations have made him a bit cautious and his not able to express himself the way he wants to. I think the Spurs game will be a great one for him, where he can express himself. Also I agree he should swop positions with Pepe, Saka is more productive on the right and Pepe on the left, finally it is Arteta who decides. All in all, I feel Saka will start to come of his own sooner than later.

  7. Joe. S says:

    A good manager would take Saka under his wing, use him sparingly and let him know that he doesn’t have to pull off miracle plays every time he gets the ball. Focus on the simple things and let some of the others take on more responsibility. Arteta owes his job to Saka’s opportunism last season when pulling his team out of trouble on more than one occasion. It’s his responsibility to nurture Sakaand allow the kid to grow.

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