Arsenal have a new rising star in Bukayo Saka (Plus video of his performance v Qarabag)

It was a very young Arsenal team that Unai Emery picked to play against Qarabag last night, and the big surprise package was the debut of the 17 year-old Bukayo Saka who looked very calm and assured, never mind extremely skilful!

The youngster came very close to scoring in the first half with a curling ball into the corner, but the Qarabag keeper did well to deflect it away. He was presented with an open goal late on but fluffed his lines and kicked it straight at the keeper, but otherwise it was a very encouraging debut and was always willing to take on his man. He was obviously buzzing after the game. “It is a dream come true,” he said on “ever since I joined the club at the age of eight I always dreamed of playing at the Emirates, so for all the coaches and the fans to support me tonight was really good.

“I didn’t start too fast but I grew into the game and that’s what I wanted to do. I started to get past my man and create chances and I could have scored at the end, I don’t know what happened.”

Emery was also impressed and gave him a special mention in the after-game conference. “Today Saka also played with a good performance, with a very big personality and we were speaking at half-time. His personality is very important for us to continue trying to go 1v1 and break lines with his quality.

“He played with a very big personality and sometimes with a very good performance. It’s very important for his confidence and for us also, because we can look at this player and see quality to help us.”

Most onlookers agreed that Saka was excellent last night, but if you couldn’t watch it live, here is a youtube of his performance. Then decide for yourself….


  1. Sue says:

    Well done young man ?

  2. Goona says:

    the future looks really bright plus i feel like AMN is wasted at fullback

  3. gotanidea says:

    In my opinion, he didn’t impress in the first half, but I didn’t watch his second half performance

    Most of the time in the first 45 minutes, he just passed the ball around and rarely challenged the opponents

    Maybe he still needs more game time to be more consistent dribbler like Chamberlain, Mbappe and Nelson

    1. Midkemma says:

      He stepped up in the second half, he was moved to the right and for me that was when he started to do a lott better. He got put back on the left again but for me it was when he got moved to the right for a brief period, must have done his confidence good as he kept looking to take people on and it had me bouncing 😛

      He surprised me, I knew he was good but I honestly didn’t think he would produce the same magic with the men for a few years but he did. Once he got going he was our most exciting player for me.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        gotanidea, it must be remembered that Saka is only 17. One would expect him to be a bit nervous in his first team debut. He looks a good prospect and a credit to the work of Freddie Lundberg and the coaching staff at Arsenal.
        I hope we see more of him. With scrooge Kroenke as owner Arsenal’s future success will depend on developing players in house and the Trinity identifying uncut diamonds.

  4. snowden says:

    As a training game I think it was excellent for the manager. i expect he will discuss many points in the game with the players.

    It was good to see Ozil link with Lacasot as he would do in an EPL game and provide for the youngsters.

    Of course for us seeing Saka for the first time was a revelation.

    With must win games coming fast and furious, this game could not have come at a better time, for it gave a break for some regular first teamers and allowed an oppotunity to take a look at players coming back from injuries or on the fringe of the first team. A good night for the club.

    As a game for the fans- a cold night out and but for Saka nothing to shout about.

  5. jon fox says:

    Saka, clearly possessing some talent, but HOW MUCH still to be decided in the coming years, MUST NOT be overhyped by those on here who regularly do so with many of our players, young or older. At 17 he is still a virtual child and must be protected from extra pressure by these daft overhypers(which ALL clubs have; it being in the nature of a certain type of fan everywhere). I thought his performance showed some possible promise but please observe the moderate language. It harms young folk in football – the last thing a devoted fan would ever intend , I realise – to talk them up before they are of proven quality. His name is now more widely known among Gooners and even that creates a pressure. I urge those well meaning , enthusiastic but not particularly deep thinking types to refrain from hype and give the lad a chance to breathe and develop , IF, as we all hope, he IS to make the grade. It is a massive jump in quality before any come through the club kid is ready at just 17 to be JUSTIFIABLY compared to such as Fabragas at that tender age.

    1. john hodges says:

      jon as you know i dont agree with you ,a lot of the time,but this time you are spot on,very well put thank you.

      1. john hodges says:

        by the way jon from the kids who played last night,i did not see one who could walk into the the premiere leaugh,like fabregas did.

        1. jon fox says:

          Agreed John and that last comment of yours is entirely my point. There are loads of talented players in the youth ranks of all the big clubs BUT the standard needed to make a first team regular is an enormous step up . We also know from long experience that so few ever make it to the first team and even when they do, like Iwobi, they still have a long way to go to be regular top productive players. Cesc was an amazing exception and in no way the rule.

    2. Midkemma says:

      It done Cesc no harm.
      It done Guendouzi no harm when he was signed as an 18 year old.
      It didn’t harm Mbappe.
      CR9 joined UTD as an 18 year old and done well.

      If they are good enough then their age becomes less of an issue, the issue isn’t their age but their quality.
      Saka doesn’t have the experience and as such some aspects of his game is nieve, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look to develop him by pushing him towards stepping up, give him mins and experience.

      To put it simply, let Saka decide if he is too young or ready, let him tell the boss by his performances. If someone has talent then I feel it is worth praising them, I am not saying lose our heads and proclaim we have a Mbappe every time a kid does well but we need to treat them as young adults (which they are) and not kids.

      1. jon fox says:

        I hear what you say and in some aspects do see the point you make. But treating someone as a human being, which ALL are , whatever their age is obviousy vital. But that does not mean they are adult. In law a 17 year old is still a minor and is also a minor in fooball terms as yet. The likes of Fabregas are exceedingly rare fruit and do not grow on every tree. Nor on almost all trees. In good time, IF he has the talent he will make it and nothing will then hold him back. But let us let him do it at his own pace. Agreed? To hype is to add unnecessary pressure, so why do it?

  6. Gooner4 says:

    I liked his decision making but lacks speed to be an effective winger you need speed he doesn’t have it

  7. Th14 says:

    Saka the Nigerian Di Maria… More of the same please.

  8. Midkemma says:

    I liked Saka performance, I hope we see more from him when the opportunities present themselves, I really think we have some players in the U23 team which could make a valid contribution to our 1st team.

    I’m not saying that they can become regular players and dislodge 1st team players but I really do think now is the time to start giving some of these players a chance to make a claim to be in the first team.

    I would like to see both Saka and Nketiah fight a bit for the right hand side to get mins with the 1st team, Nketiah needs to get some mins with the 1st team and this could be it and Saka shown great promise. As long as any player puts in a good enough effort then they need to be rewarded, to encourage that effort, to drive the players forward.

    1. Break-on-through says:

      I feel the same way Midkemma. I believe if Klopp had this team, we would see at least three or four beginning to make first team headway. Not that that isn’t what Emery’s aiming to do. Nelson, Smith, Nketiah, Bola/Tutu, Saka, and maybe a couple more are looking promising at the very least. Strange thing is I think they’re all English, our best prospects are our English ones. We have Nwakali out on loan, but he should be at a similar level to Guendouzi, he was hailed that big. We even got Kanu to sprinkle some magic dust onto the talks, he had a little magic left over, it was in one of his old socks. Smith looks close to me, if it wasn’t for Iwobi and Mkhit’s drop in form, I’m not sure if I would feel, very close. But I do, the young man has goals in him. Then there’s Nelson, he looks to have the final third in his sights also, and like Saka, he can leave players so far up a road that they never make it back down.

      Hopefully, not just the ones I named, hopefully all of our young guns can see the opportunity that they have in front of them. Arsenal, are one of the few giant clubs that totally gives their youth a chance. Under this new regime, they need to ask questions, also listen very hard. These guys like to prepare players. They’ll need to work their socks off without looking erratic, excitable or tense, basically go at a fast pace in everything you do, but try to compose yourselves when making the final decision. Compose yourselves lads – And you Iwobi.

      Different note.
      Toral?, how the heck are he and Jenking your chain, still AFC players.

      1. Sue says:

        Thought we sold Toral?

        1. Break-on-through says:

          I googled – Arsenal players on loan. And his name came up, surprised the heck out of me. CC, Ospina, Takuma, Bielik, Nelson and Bramall, all came up as loan players with Toral.

          1. Sue says:

            Oh ok, I thought we’d sold him to Hull… think I’ll just shut up ??

      2. ken1945 says:

        First of all, thanks Arsene for the talent you have left us!!
        Now let’s watch Unai bring them on step by step!!
        Jenkinson…what did he do wrong last night?
        O.K. he’s not world class, or even a top player, but he did what he was put on the pitch to do and deserves credit when it’s due.

        1. ozziegunner says:

          You’re right Ken; Jenkinson has been quite solid in his limited opportunities this season.
          What is the latest on Bielik at Charlton Athletic after his injury plagued last season?

  9. Break-on-through says:

    He’s very raw, and he has a bit of a unique style. He stands similarly like Sterling, very upright, so you’re not sure which way he’s going to turn. When he gets some confidence and power to his game, that I’d like to see. It bodes well for him that allot of those clips, they had two and three players watching him tightly. He obv worried them.

    AMN, is he after taking a stretch, thought he looked taller since he’s come back.

    1. Break-on-through says:

      Also Saka, about the Stirling part. He keeps the ball almost dead centre, allot of time. Stirling does that too, not only do you not know what way he’s aiming to turn, but sometimes you don’t even know which foot he will go with. Step-overs, the best players at this stuff, they like to have the ball dead centre. That is maybe why M Owen likened him to Ronaldo.

  10. John says:

    I think it is a good thing that a group of youngsters are being integrated into the first team …these guys will feel less pressure as a group compared to just a lone star…we should expect a few playing regularly in the first team next season

  11. Aubamezzette says:

    We have quite a lot of rising stars now…
    (Im still not convinced about Willock yet n Nketiah seem to have taking a step back).
    ….its good, but these players need two things now; experience and mentors.
    We are now in the KnockOut stage of the Europa league so unfortunately fewer and fewer of these youngsters will see gametime as we progress in the competition.
    I dnt expect Emery to start Saka,SmithRowe,Willock,Nketiah against Napoli or InterMilan or Shaktar Donetsk.
    ….so where do these boys get the gametime they need? Loan moves have to be considered now.

    As regards mentor, i think we have quite enough in Defence Koscielny,Lichsteiner,Monreal,Sokratis but where we could add is in the wing play… who is gonna mentor Saka,Nelson? Is it Iwobi?
    We need to add at least one experienced winger. I wont mind a Zaha for example, but we have also been linked to DiMaria, so maybe him too.

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