Southgate asking Saka to play in defence is not an insult, it’s a compliment to his versatility

There are Gooners who clearly think the definition of a supporter is you have to say everything is rainbows and unicorns about the club they love.

Since the Euros have begun, I have read how Mbappe wouldn’t get in our team, we don’t need to buy a striker because we have Kai Havertz, and this week an incredible level of sensitivity regarding the suggestion that Bukayo Saka could play at let back for England.

The problem when someone is positive for the sake of positivity is their opinion starts to lack any substance.

Some pundits have questioned could Saka in the short term replace Trippier as way to get Palmer into the Three Lions 11? A section of our fanbase believe this is because there is an agenda against anyone who plays for Arsenal.

Grown adults who think our crest is so unique, our shirt so special that ex-players paid to give their point of view have some sort of conspiracy theory against the Gunners. What their motive is isn’t clear.

Other have even claimed that the 22-year-old is being judged based on the colour of his skin. Since when has what position you play been racism?

In our history Thierry Henry wanted to carry on being a winger but was asked to learn the striker role, full back was made Lauren’s sole role, Kolo Toure was trained to become a centreback. Does that make Arsene Wenger a racist?

In the Group stage none of the English attack can claim to have been at their best. This is the one area where Gareth Southgate has options.

If you have quality sat on your bench those forward’s starting’s spot is up for grabs if they are not delivering. That’s been how a squad operates for decades.

Trust me if Mikel Arteta had Palmer as an alternative, he would bring him on if Saka was below par.

Whisper it quietly, the likes of Ian Wright were proven correct on Sunday as both sides at full back ended up two out of the three positions Saka would utilise for 120 minutes.

That’s actually a complement to our player. When a goal was needed against Slovakia Southgate clearly wanted to keep his best talent on the pitch. Asking his right midfielder to step into a back 4 is actually an attacking switch, because now the English had pace coming down both sides.

You see Saka representing his nation In defence isn’t a reflection on our player, but the fact in his country’s 26 man squad who have travelled to Germany, an injured Luke Shaw is the only natural left back.

Now having known his first choice option has been absent since February should another expert in that area have been identified? Of course, but that’s another debate for another day.

Trippier has to come back inside because he’s right footed. That then prevents Foden from having a free role because he hasn’t got anyone overlapping taking a marker with him.

It’s clearly not Saka’s favoured role but sometimes you have to be selfless to help the team. Saka has a strong left foot where he can take on his man, cross first time and stay wide which gives Foden flexibility to time when to move into the middle.

If that means Palmer starts as well you are improving two problems by asking Saka to sacrifice his game for the knockout stages, then it’s worth it.

That’s surely better then Saka being dropped?

Isn’t trusting Saka to help us in a weak area the opposite to an agenda? How is trying to find a way to get him and Palmer in the same team racism?

The player himself has stressed it’s not ideally where he wants to play, but it wouldn’t be him playing out of position. Left back is where Saka made his Prem debut starting 9 times there as a teenager.

While he’s been vocal that he thinks there are other solutions, he’s smart enough to know that not embracing new ideas means he wouldn’t have stayed on the pitch.

He’s humbled enough to know he hasn’t played well enough in the Group Stage where he can complain about Palmer getting the chance.

While a QFinals is too late to be experimenting there’s no denying that Saka at left back with Palmer on the right looked more dangerous then Trippier left back and Saka on the right?

Saka’s football intelligence and versatility were crucial in the victory over Slovakia.

The irony being those who say Saka has to play RW just because he plays there at the Emirates and Palmer plays at the Bridge, they are the ones with the agenda!



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  1. Yes and it will also make Saka remember how to play effectively against a fullback from the right wing
    If Havertz could benefit from playing LB in a couple of games, let alone Saka

    Unlike Arteta’s tactics, Southgate’s don’t maximize Saka’s abilities to exploit the half-spaces and to cut inside, so Saka should try harder to get past his marker

    I believe playing attacking LB will make him more confident when dribbling on the right wing

  2. The fact that Southgate felt obliged to play Saka at left back is a sad reflection on the dearth of natural left backs available to him in the EPL.. The same applies to left central midfielders which is why he felt it necessary to bring along young Wharton who, let’s face it was highly unlikely to be played but will perhaps gain some insight and confidence from training with experienced internationalists..Ironically Southgate decided to overlook a very decent natural LB in Mitchell of Palace who would certainly have been an improvement on the likes of Trippier,Konsa or Gomez in that position.

  3. Saka is cr-p at playing left back and has more leaks than a tea bag.
    If I was saka, I would say thanks but no thanks and either sit on the bench or follow Whites example a pack my bags and go home. And yes, it is an insult, seeing as he won player of the year twice as a left wing forward. If he had played leftback during those years he won player of the year, he would have won zero of the year. You guys make me laugh, next you be thinking it’s ok to play Mbappe in goal for France because it makes him versatile.
    Why not play no goal contribution Foden at leftback, because he adds nothing to England’s attack, in fact as soon as Southgate took Foden off, we had more balance to the side and we scored the equaliser and then the winner. It only happened once we took Foden off. England played better last year without Foden in the starting 11. People have short memories.

    1. Saka can do a job at LB but one would have to agree that he is not elite at it defensively. However, he does provide balance to the left side when he plays there.
      Cole Palmers influence on the right has been exaggerated which is an issue in much of the discourse. However, Saka’s performances have not been at the high level expected which has led to some of the criticism of his play and the calls for Cole. I feel Saka is better on the right than Cole.
      Foden and Bellingham are more of an issue IMO especially if England want to continue progressing in the tournament. Bellingham has had one pretty good game and clutch moments but otherwise his performances have been uneven. Foden has had moments but has not really influenced games as his reputation would suggest he should.

      1. Yes I did see him playing left back but unlike you I went back and checked his stats. They were terrible. You obviously haven’t done your homework before committing your opinion. Not everybody does, so don’t worry your not in the minority, but please don’t embarrass yourself. Always check your facts and especially the stats. Plus it’s not a rant if the facts back up your argument. Anyway you sound like a Foden fan, maybe your a man city fan and not a true gooner, it’s hard to tell who’s who with some of these anti Arsenal comments from some bloggers. I hope I am wrong.

        1. @daveg
          I see a pattern in your criticisms of Foden. You just don’t seem to like him and just want to find whatever to have a go.
          The guy plays on the opposite side / wing of the field compared to Saka. But I also remember a comment you made about him vs Saka in the Slovenia game where you also pointed out Foden with some biased criticism in favour of Saka.

          I just don’t see how Foden playing on the opposite wing to Saka has or keeps affecting Saka’s own poor performances.

          I think that you’ve gotta take off your Arsenal / Saka tinted glasses and be more objective on this matter.

          1. He (Foden)has unbalanced the team. 80% of play down the congested left, Foden and Bellingham running the same channels. Stats don’t lie. No goal contribution Foden must go. Check the stats. Saka has been poor by his standards, but it is partially due to lack of service by the midfielders and forwards. If you watch the game he is often isolated on the right with his only service coming from the long ball of the rightback. So Saka’s problem lies in lack of service at only 20% down the right by his fullback. Foden having 80% and contesting the middle to left side by getting in the way of Bellingham ,Gallagher Rice and Kane not knowing his space has no excuse of zero goal contribution, in fact he causes congestion, wastes his shots and backward passes. Check the stats. As soon as he was removed, England gained confidence and balance, as it was this way last year before he was in the starting 11. But you are all blind to it.

  4. I don’t mind where Saka plays for England as long he gives 💯 and can hold his head up high when he comes back from International duty. Southgates days are numbered, he’s managed to make a squad of very decent players, play like a pub team. Watching England play is like watching a DVD of paint drying, on repeat. The next England game will be the same, sideways passing, pass across to the other side, pass backwards, pass to Pickford. He’s strangled the courage and creativity out of the players to play the ball forward or try a risky front pass into space, for a runner. Southgate is so safe that he probably wears a hard hat and hi-viz jacket to go up in the loft. The squad he has and the draw of opponent, for me, England should be winning this tournament. Anything less and I think Southgate should be gone. What would a Pep or Klopp be able to achieve with this squad? Hold on, is it out of the question to sack him mid tournament and appoint Klopp?! 🤔

  5. Have to agree with grandad that this is a desperate call. I don’t understand this current inclination to play centre halves in this position, it’s so boring.. I miss the likes of Vivian Richards, Roberto Carlos, Maldini, Dani Alves, Lee Dixon etc etc . Saka can do the job, but what a waste

      1. This is major naivete.

        Of course they want him to be the LB permanently. It has nothing to do with helping England either but humiliating him. No big player gets treated like this.

        Look at what Thomas Frank said about the possibility of dropping Kane. Any serious manager will tell you that it’s a seriously disrespectful way to treat a player.

  6. It’s a double edged decision in my opinion. On one hand it’s an indictment on Saka’s poor performances so far. The manager thinks that he has been poor / ineffective in his preferred position, so not playing him there but instead moving him into a defensive position tells you all you need to know.

    But on the other hand Saka should be proud that the manager still prefers him to be in the team. Could heve dropped him from the team altogether but he did not. Etc..

  7. This is sad from Pat who lets politics cloud his thinking.

    As if the British media deliberately finding a black player to plaster on England’s losses isn’t racism. Why don’t they do it when they win?

    If you actually look at the patterns, it’s clear racial bias. This is why I say that Pat is being political. Just look at the headlines persistently over time. It’s not even discrete.

    Suggesting Saka play fullback is the biggest disrespect that their is for any forward. This is monumental gaslighting.

    This is like AVB putting youth players in First Class on the way to the pre-season tour and trying to force Lamps, Drogba etc in economy.

    If you want to drop Saka then you drop him. Is Saka is a big enough name to deserve this scrutiny, then don’t suggest that he plays left back.

    There are a lot of people who want to see him humiliated.

    1. @ADA
      I am Pat and I am certainly NOT a racist in any shape or form, and I CERTAINLY don’t allow any racist tones or insinuations at all on my website (by the way I didn’t write the article as you can clearly see in the above post. If YOU think playing Saka at left-back is a racist statement then I would suggest there is only one person here who is looking at the colour of the player rather than the needs of the team? Who could that be????

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