Spotlight on Bukayo Saka’s display against West Ham


by Funsho

First of all, this is like a microcosm of ThirdManJW’s fine posts on Bukayo Saka. He considered the boy’s prospect of attaining world class status, whereas this commentary focuses on the player and especially his contribution to Arsenal’s win against West Ham. If anything, the game on Saturday was proof that Arsenal will struggle this season without better creators in midfield. This writer was initially surprised to see Ceballos and Saka start in place of Elneny and AMN, but as the story unfolded, Arteta’s claim at the press conference of knowing what Moyes will do was spot on. His logic was that his gunners team will need more creativity against a West Ham side that will be organised and cherry pick their attacking moments, and he couldn’t have been more right. Nevertheless, the lads couldn’t create much.

Digressing a bit, let’s talk a bit about Dani. Ceballos for all his industry and neatness with the ball in tight spaces, has room for improvement as a ‘creator’. Granted, he assisted Nketiah’s winner, the Spaniard may be seen as the main creative cog this season, seeing as Ozil doesn’t seem to get a look-in these days and the increased likelihood of Arsenal not doing as much business as they desire in this transfer window going by the financial situation. That said, the 24-year-old’s interception, ball retention, tackle success and pass completion stats make him a complete midfield technician. Tell you what: he’ll be a sumptuous player when he reaches his prime. But without flogging it too much, this team is in dire need of more creativity.

Moreover, most of the players showed desire and passion, not less the experienced ones like Willian, but didn’t have much impact on the 2-1 result. This is where Hale End graduate, Bukayo Saka, comes into the picture. He arguably had the most telling influence of the middle-4 (in the 3-4-3) on the final outcome of the match. He was really a joy to watch for most gooners last weekend, as always seems to be the case, with his pre-assists (whatever that is!) for the two goals.

More specifically, Saka has three important qualities: football understanding, speed of thought and impeccable execution. In terms of execution, his assist for Pepe against Newcastle last season (with the nutmeg, remember?), his assist for the skipper’s goal in the community shield and the smartly taken strike for his EPL goal versus Wolves tell the full story—an assassin that never loses focus until he proficiently achieves his aim with a level of expertise unexpected of a teenager. He appeared to have crawled in from nowhere under Emery, but has really progressed and become so dependable cos he’s a quality player. The events that led to the two goals against the Hammers are testament to his quality and are the very sparks of magic that make fans go to games. For the first goal, his position between the lines as a spare man in midfield (after coming in-field from his wingback role) to receive the ball from Xhaka, the weight and timing of his through pass to Aubameyang and the continuation of his run as a potential target for Auba’s final pass (that found Lacazette’s head; oh! And what a pick out that was!) all show an intelligent footballer who’s growing in the game.

Similarly, the nonchalance, disguise and execution of the through ball to Ceballos for Nketiah’s goal is what dreams are made of for a teammate on-the-run. In describing that pass (that any player in the world would have been proud of), this writer will be making use of ThirdManJW’s vivid description from his article on whether or not Saka is on his way to becoming world class:

 With the clock ticking down, and a lucky draw on the cards, possible defeat coming (given our poor second half), Saka took it upon himself to drive at the Hammers defence, and make something happen. It was great vision to spot Ceballos, and a perfectly composed pass, giving Dani the easiest assist he’ll ever have. Yet again, Saka played a key role in another victory.”

Take a bow Son, and as the meaning of your name (BUKAYO) goes, keep on scooping more joy into our football barrels.

By and large, as a sign of expectation of what’s to come, this piece will end with a short poem for our number 7:


Oh lovely Little Chili

Assorted chocolate box of many possibilities;

By a sneaky emergence at the N5

Made it to the big time against expectations;

Four positions, even five

This gold fish’s got gills and lungs;

Plateau not early like Iwobi did 

Be not overplayed like Wilshere suffered;

Give more footballing joy to all of us

Bukayo, the top beckons.


Really appreciate you reading along,



  1. Dani. Ceballos is not a creator and never will be. Arsenal should groom BUKAYO for that job. He has all the tools to become one.

  2. I call for caution so that the hype does not go to Saka’s head as happened with many young English players such as David Bentley, Justin Hoyte, Jack Wishere, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott etc. Saka ahould continue to develop his game quietly so that he does not get derailed by hype. Let him avoid the limelight for now. All these will come once he hits the pinnacle.

    1. He’s not an English player,.. just like Iwobi we expect him to make the right call when it come to his future at international level . Bukayo Saka is a Naija boy period.

  3. The kid will win the ballondor. Whatever the spelling is. Humble, desire to achieve, patient, fearless and ready to learn. I think i need to buy his jersey.

  4. It is not wise to overhype and laud the talented Saka so much at this early moment in his burgeoning career. It heaps unnecessary pressure on him so my advice, Funsho, is don’t repeat this type of unhelpful article. As for your attempt to write poetry, well, words fail me!
    You are a gifted writer but you should choose your subjects with more care!

    1. Thanks for the advice and your kind words always, Jon.
      Article was not meant to overhype him, but focus on his West Ham performance, his intelligence and ability to execute given tasks on the pitch. Also, the poem isn’t trying to laud Saka as the best Arsenal teenager since Fabregas. Willock/Nelson/ESR articles could also get a verse if I’m inspired so.
      All in all, your point is noted.

      1. Funsho, thank you for replying and I feel I ought to make it quite clear exactly why I wrote as I did.
        My contention has always been that even playing top level football and esp when playing for a side as famous across the globe as our club is, by itself is a huge pressure and on all players of whatever age and experience.

        Top level football is littered with talented young players who careers have petered out before achieving their full potential because of pressure and because they have started to believe the hype that follows all young talented players, from media AND from over zealous fans who hail merely promising players as already world class.

        I do NOT say that you have done that here, but only that it may encourage other less cerebral thinkers into doing likewise. There are a lot of over excitable fans in all clubs and adding pressure to still young players, who really need to go “under the radar” while developing, does not help them. Often it is counter productive.

        The immensely likeable Bukato has of course excited many of us and shrewder judges then I have forecast a big future for him. I fervently hope so and believe so too but I am very keen to help our club,not hinder it, and PUBLICLY, (as opposed to privately) overpraising still developing youngsters is just not helping in my opinion.

        I mean this advice very respectfully, , esp since I have great regard for both your intellect and obvious gift for writing. I hope you will FULLY consider my expanded reasons for my original comment and I wish you well and look forward to your next wonderful article to come.

  5. I think due to game playing fatigue for his having played almost the entire away game at Leicester in the Carabao Cup match last Wednesday night’s, Arteta is likely to drop Saka from his starting lineup for Arsenal away match to Liverpool in the Premier League on Monday night.

    1. @SAA,

      I don’t believe MA will drop Saka as a result of fatigue from playing the whole minutes of game vs Leicester game.
      That game has 5-day recovery period. He is still a youngster with loads of energy to burn.

      Fatigue should not be issue here. If he is dropped, then it should be for other reason(s).

  6. I think if we are to pick from the 2 midfielders we are being linked with, i will choose hassim because he is a playmaker.
    Ceballos is good but he needs atleast 1 more person in midfield to control it.

    The tging with Saka is he is direct.His game is different and better suited for a winger.I dont think he can give control and change tempo,those come with experience.But at this young age to do the things that he did is extraordinary….

  7. i dont know what people say but Saka is a bit player than Greenwood so if anything he has nolt been overhyped . i see a wonderful talent in the boy . the way i saw in a player like ashley cole in an arsenal jersey offcourse.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors