Has Arteta finally found the perfect backup for Bukayo Saka?

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.

Darren N

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Tags Saka Vieira


  1. Think they are two different players , Saka like to receive the ball at his feet, to spin the defender and either run or cross, or picking up the ball a little behind to use his pace and run on to, not sure Vieira has the speed or drive so when he receives the ball his options are always different.

  2. This is great news for saka but even better for smith rowe I love him playing attacking midfield he is better than kai havetz in my opinion .

  3. Not on your life. Jesus is the perfect back up to Saka. I really dont get that Vierra is a winger or strong enough to play in the Premier league.

  4. I would not read so much into Viera playing there. He does not have enough pace or speed of feet to play there as a back up to Saka on a regular basis IMO. That said, I really am happy to see he has improved as a midfielder. Maybe he has now settled and got used to the MA way, but he looks a much better player now so much more comfortable when playing as a left 8.

  5. All players arsenal have are good, arteta should always keep rotating them to make them active. It’s good to know the first team but use all to ensure future prosperity of the team.

  6. I think it is a viable option. He is a different player from Saka but that shouldn’t be a problem-it’s the same as Martinelli/Trossard : same position but two different players. I thought he played well when he came on for Saka. I also don’t buy the idea that he’s not strong enough: he clearly has improved from last season in terms of physicality. But even if that was not the case,I don’t think it’s a massive problem as sometimes people think. If a player is intelligent and positionally aware,physicality shouldn’t matter much. There are many examples of players in the league who aren’t physically imposing but do just fine e.g. Bernado Silva

    In addition,it has often been said by football experts that playing midfielders out on the wing sometimes improves their tactical understanding of the game. They become much better when they move back centrally. Wenger often did this with players such as Cazorla and Ramsey.

    1. 100% – you can’t expect absolute like for like replacements, and I’m not sure you’d want that. Nelson is another who’s done well at times on the right, but he’s a completely different type of player.
      I might be wrong, but my understanding is that Cazorla played mostly on the wing before joining arsenal, which is why he started there for us, before wenger eventually moved him into central midfield. I think most managers strongly resist playing very small players in the centre, especially at that time, but wenger was more comfortable doing it, particularly after seeing Xavi and iniesta for Barcelona (I think their success had an enormous influence on his thinking around 2010 or slightly earlier). Ramsey is a perfect example for your point, though, imo.

  7. Arteta is Pep’s student. Bernado Silva has played that role for city in many games. I think Viera has relatively similar profile to Bernado.

  8. Is this ridiculous claim in this piece some sort of sick joke? Or could it be worse still, in that Darren, perish the thought, actually BELIEVES what he wrote?!!!!

    VIERA IS NOT A WIDE PLAYER at all. Nor is he a bad player. But in no sense of normal reality can he possibly be considered by any rational Gooner as a like for like replacement for SAKA.

    Surely that is -OR OUGHT TO BE- obvious!

    1. what’s the problem if he can produce in the position….. Arteta is still trying out new things… Let’s trust him… What’s the problem in Vieira playing at times at right wing as a back up, that doesn’t mean he can’t be playing at midfield

  9. Jesus also played rw in pre season like vieira. I think jesus, vieira, nelson can all play there depending on what arteta wants from his winger in a particular game.

  10. The way Arteta inverts players I don’t think it is an issue or problem. Saka doesn’t run at opponents like Martinelli does, so Vieira not doing so either isn’t a problem.

    Vieira can receive the ball and create chances like Saka. Maybe Arteta envisions Havertz running into space and playing off of Vieira? Or Jesus making runs when he drops deep like he does.

    Arteta clearly has an idea of what he wants to try, so until it’s proven a mistake give it time.

  11. Well said Durand ..viera isn’t that bad..He can play that role cause Arsenal has there on way of covering each others mistakes..if MA can make Thomas play as a Full back .why can’t viera play as a RW?..He is has good passes,good cross balls and he is angry with goals ..Am not saying he is better than saka but he isn’t that bad either.

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