Tag Archives: Bukayo Saka.

Arteta rotates The Youth

“Why is he not playing Martinelli” was tweeted countless times on Saturday.

“Saka on the bench, it’s a disgrace” was another.

Following the starting XI announcement, everyone had an opinion on who was playing, who shouldn’t and who was not in the squad. It is only natural.

This then led to the rumour mill kicking off. “Is Arteta teaching Martinelli a lesson”. This all follows up on Matteo Guendouzi being “dropped” following an alleged incident in Dubai.

The truth is, defence aside, Arsenal have very few injury worries.

Prior to Everton, only Kieran Tierney, Calum Chambers and Cedric Soares were on the walking wounded list.

Of the 26 players to have played in the Premier League for Arsenal this season, 21 were fit and ready to go (2 injured, 3 sold or out on loan). With a match day squad of 18, 3 players were always going to miss out.

Games are coming thick and fast at the moment. We are playing twice a week for the forceable (although we have the weekend off with no game v Man City – although we then play Portsmouth in the FA Cup on Monday).

Arteta needs to rest and rotate. To keep players fresh. To keep them injury free.

Take Bukayo Saka.

Saka is an 18-year-old kid in his first full season of mens football. He had started 6 games in a row for Arteta. It has pretty much been a game every 3 or 4 days for him, winter break aside.

Before Everton, he had played Sunday & Thursday. 90 minutes against both Newcastle and Olympiakos. It was only natural that with Saed Kolasinac returning, Arteta would take the opportunity to Saka a break.

Think of the challenge that injured Kolasinac. Had that happened to Saka, and he be out for the season, many of those moaning that he did not start would then moan that he was being over played.

Arsenal have a lot of very talented youngsters. They can not all play at once. They can not all be in the squad at once.

Up front is a perfect example of this.

We have senior players in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. These are backed up by Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah.

That is 7 attacking players, all of whom were fit against Everton.

With 3 starting, it would be ludicrous to have 4 on the bench. By the time you pick a goal keeper that leaves just 2 places on the bench left for defenders and central midfielders.

Most teams usually go with 2-2-2 on the bench.

Two defenders (one central, one full back). 2 central midfielders, and two attacking players.

Once Arteta had gone with Nketiah upfront, Lacazette was always going to be on the bench. This left space for one more attacking player on the bench.

With Saka in the squad as left back and left winger, it was a straight choice between Martinelli and Nelson.

On this occasion Arteta went for Nelson.

And you can fully understand the Spaniards thinking by picking Nelson.

Nelson provides something that no one else does. He is a right footed winger who gets chalk on his boots.

Martinelli, meanwhile, creates little and is better suited down the middle. In Aubameyang and Lacazette, Arteta had two other striking options in his squad alongside Nketiah. Nelson simply gives more balance to the match day squad.

Also missing out were Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock, and again it is completely understandable.

The defensive options on the bench against Everton were Sokratis and Saka.

If Bellerin went down injured, Mustafi would shift to right back, and Sokratis would come into the middle (or vice versa). And if Kolasinac got injured, Saka would come on.

That left no space for Maitland-Niles as a defensive option.

Moving into midfield, Arteta went for Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi on the bench. His more senior pair.

Had he gone for Willock or Maitland-Niles, we would have had the same stories as post-Dubai. That Guendouzi had been dropped for attitude problems.

Instead it is Maitland-Niles not in the squad, and rumours circulating about Arteta being unhappy with attitude.

Willock also lost out, with Dani Ceballos starting for his 2nd Premier League game in a row.

Whenever a player is left out, stories will circulate as to why. Usually the simplest answer the truest. That the manager is simply rotating and resting.

Expect more changes for Thursday against Olympiakos, and more again for the FA Cup game against Portsmouth.


Media search for negativity with Arsenal contract situations

Arsenal are on a good run of results.

Unbeaten in 2020, the improvement under Mikel Arteta is now turning into wins. There is a positive feeling in Islington right now.

Due to the positivity over The Arsenal, the media have been struggling to find something negative to write about. It is the negative articles that get the most hits. Generates the most advertising revenue.

With results on the pitch going so well, journalists have now looked off the pitch to find their negative Arsenal-related stories. This has led them to speculate on the future of Arsenal players due to their current contract situations.

Both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka’s deals run out in 18 months time. Arsenal’s top scorer and leading creator.

In recent days, Arsenal have been portrayed as a club in crisis. That we are set to lose our two most influential attacking players this summer. It is no more than click bait.

Firstly on Aubameyang.

He turns 31 at the end of the season and is showing no sign of slowing down. He has shown no indication to want to leave the club this summer.

With Champions League now being worth £60m+ a season in comparison to the Europa League, it would make more financial sense for Arsenal to take the risk on his contract.

He runs it down, fires us back into the Champions League in 2021, Arsenal will be financially better off. Aubameyang can then go off to China or America and earn some big bucks as his ability declines.

The question that few are asking about Aubameyang is “were he to leave Arsenal in the summer, where would he go?”

Arsenal would demand a transfer fee in the region of at least £50m (remembering the cost of not making the Champions League).

Aubameyang himself would also demand a nice big contract.

He will have one year left on his ~£200k a week contract. Arsenal will likely offer him at least £250k a week to extend for another 2 years. That means a buying club would have to be willing to commit to a £250k 3-year deal and a £50m transfer fee.

At 31, he would likely see that contract out, and then either retire or move on a free, once again to China or America. the buying club would claw nothing back.

£90milllion (salary + fee) would be a huge investment.

Only Europe’s financial elite would be capable of spending that on a player, knowing they will never get it back. But who of Europe’s financial elite needs a 31-year-striker?

Real Madrid and Barcelona have Karim Benzema (32) and Luis Suarez (33) respectively. They have no need for another ageing striker and would most likely focus their energy on bringing in younger men who can replace their senior men in the long term – think Kylian Mbappe and Lautaro Martinez.

Bayern Munich are in a similar situation. They are no looking to replace Aubameyang’s former Borussia Dortmund teammate Robert Lewandowski (31) anytime soon. They will also be looking at the younger market.

In Italy, Inter Milan have been heavily linked with Aubameyang. But they have only recently spent big money on Romelu Lukaku, who has scored 22 goals in 33 games. They do not need a 1st choice striker.

They might be tempted to sign Aubameyang and play him on the left hand side of Lukaku, but following the flop of Alexis Sanchez, would they be willing to invest heavily in an ageing star?

The left wing is not Aubameyang’s best position, If Inter wanted a winger, there are better, cheaper, younger options out there.

Juventus is the other team in Italy that would be able to offer Aubameyang what he wants. But they have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo (35) up top.

Ronaldo’s contract expires in 2 years. Like the Spanish sides, Juventus will surely be looking for a long term replacement for him.

Add in Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala and they are well stocked for forwards.

That leaves PSG as teams who would able to afford him on the content.

Now there is discussion that Kylian Mbappe could be off to Real Madrid. If that happens, they surely won’t sell Neymar to Barcelona – especially with Edison Cavani having left as well.

If we take Mbappe out of the equation, that leaves them with Neymar, Angel di Maria and Mauro Icari.

Icardi is only on loan from Juventus, but surely signing a 27-year-old for £60m makes more sense than Aubameyang on double the wages?

Money is no object to PSG so they could go for both. But would Aubameyang be happy rotating in and out of the team? And playing second fiddle to Neymar?

That leaves England.

Arsenal would rather lose him Aubameyang on a free in 12 months then see him score the goals that sees Manchester United or Chelsea finish above us.

Aubameyang is going nowhere.

Saka is at the complete other end of his career to Aubameyang.

At 18-years-old he has quickly become one of the most exiting young talents in Europe. There will be no shortage of takers for him.

But the lack of progression with his contract is not a worry once you understand the situation.

On their 17th birthday, players can sign their 1st professional contract. That contract can be no more than 3 years long.

On their 18th birthday, they can negotiate a new deal up to 5 years.

Very few players sign that new deal on their 18th birthday – especially as the rule is their agent can not even negotiate a deal on their behalf prior to them passing legal drinking age.

Saka only turned 18 in September. 5 Months ago.

Some will argue 5 months is more than enough to negotiate a new contract. But a lot has been going on at Arsenal during that time.

The sacking of Unai Emery, Granit Xhaka stripped of captaincy, Freddie Ljungberg as caretaker manager and the appointment of Arteta.

Now things have settled expect a negotiations to continue.

It was not too long ago that the media were reporting similar stories over Reiss Nelson’s future. As expected he signed a new deal.

Almost every 18 year old footballer is at his club with 18 months left on his deal. Yet only one is being written about.

And it is interesting that the press are only speculating on the future of Aubameyang and Saka based on their contract situations. They are not talking about the countless other Premier League players who are also entering the last 18 months of their contract.

Whilst there are stories of Paul Pogba and Leroy Sane, neither of these are being linked away due to their contract situations.

And where is the Sergio Aguero talk? Or Georginio Wijnaldum?

And that is just the list of players in the Premier League.

It is almost like negative Arsenal articles get more hits than any other club. That makes us more newsworthy. More likely to have a click bait article written about us.

Ignore the rubbish about players leaving, about contracts.

Ultimately if players want to leave, they can. We shouldn’t be keeping players who do not want to here here. Whether that be an ageing Aubameyang or academy graduate Saka.

Don’t give those trying to monitise negativity your time.


The man who could save Arsenal millions

In recent weeks Bukayo Saka has put in some superb performances at left back that has left some calling for him to get an England call up.

The 18-year-old is exciting. And it will be even more exciting when he is played further forward on the left wing.

Saka is a winger. He is an attacker. A goal scorer. A creator. He is not a left back.

Whilst he can be commended for his performances at full back – and his time there will make him a  much more rounded players, anyone that thinks he will do an “Ashley Cole” and move from winger needs to remove those thoughts from their mind.

Arsenal lack wingers – the only senior natural winger in the squad is Nicolas Pepe. Saka and Reiss Nelson are both huge talents.

This lack of wide man has led Mikel Arteta to play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out wide.

Whilst Aubameyang is a goal threat, he does not really create much. Playing on the left wing he is currently averaging less than 1 chance created per 90 minutes (0.7). That is not good enough.

Gabriel Martinelli has also played a little bit on the left wing. But like Aubameyang he does not really crate much – 0.3 chances created per 90 minutes.

Meanwhile Saka has 8 assists this season, which is more than Martinelli and Aubameyang combined.

Some have made the point that Arteta could keep Saka at left back and play either Martinelli or Aubameyang ahead of him, in an ultra attacking left hand side. But Saka at left back is not as effective going forward as Saka on the wing.

At left back, Saka creates 0.8 chances per 90 minutes. That nearly trebles to 2.3 chances created when he is played in a more forward position on the left hand side.

The statistics show that he is easily our most creative player on the left wing.

You then have Kieran Tierney.

Tierney is the best crosser of the ball at the club. He has shown in his few games this season that he is a threat going forward similar to that of Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool.

Tierney averages 1.1 chances created per 90minutes.

So in Tierney, we have a left back that creates more chances than Saka. And in Saka we have a winger who creates more chances than Aubameyang and Martinelli.

It is a simple equation. The more chances you create the more chances you have to score.

Saka and Tierney on the left will create 3+ chances a game between them. Any other combination does not even create 2 chances a game.

By pushing Saka forward on the wing, it also forces Aubamayang back into the middle. He is out best striker. He should play down the middle.

With Hector Bellerin and Nicolas Pepe beginning to build a relationship on the right hand side, it would make a lot of sense for Arteta to play Tierney / Saka on the left until the end of the season. Saka could save us millions!

It is clear that Saka and Tierney are our most creative duo. It will be exciting when they are together.