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,