Could Mikel Arteta finally have revealed to us who his preferred Bukayo Saka backup is?
After a strong start to the season, Arsenal’s star player appears to be back to his best, if not getting better. We can’t help but be concerned about the impact our reliance on him may have on his performance later in the season. Arteta ought to manage the 22-year-old’s playing time. But the question is, who will be his perfect deputy?
Emile Smith, Rowe, and Reiss Nelson could, but they all prefer to play on the left wing, and we didn’t sign a right winger.
We saw Fabio Vieira replace Saka on the right wing on Wednesday night. This move was telling because Nelson and Smith Rowe were also on the pitch, and one of them could have moved to the right wing for Vieira to play on the left, but that wasn’t the case.
Arteta appears to regard Vieira, who is left-footed, as the ideal substitute for Saka on the right wing. We didn’t read anything into Vieira’s location out wide on the right in the Emirates Cup win over Monaco, but I think we now understand that Arteta is preparing him for a role on the right wing.
If Arteta believes Vieira can be a viable alternative for our star boy, it will not only relieve Saka’s workload; it will also provide Smith Rowe with an opportunity to serve as Kai Havertz’s backup for an attacking midfielder role.
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