Tag Archives: Bukayo Saka.

Why has Dani Ceballos fallen out of favour at Arsenal?

It usually takes a foreign player a few weeks, even a few months to acclimatise to Premier League football.

Players coming from Spain have often struggled with the higher paced, more physical side of English football.

Dani Ceballos has not needed time to settle. He has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. His man of the match performance against the Burnley Bully Boys was one of the best home debuts I have seen from an Arsenal player.

Ceballos was everywhere. His performance was all action. He attacked with intent, and also defended soundly. He covered every blade of grass.

That is what I blogged following Dani Ceballos full debut performance against Burnley back in August. It seems like that performance will be the highlight of the Spaniards Arsenal career.

Having got 2 assists against Burnley, his Arsenal record has been underwhelming.

8 starts in all competitions, 1 goal, and no more assists beyond those 2 against Burnley.

Ceballos came off the bench against Bournemouth in the cup. It was his first game since Mikel Arteta had joined.

At the beginning of November he picked up a torn muscle that ruled him out until the end of December. Despite being fit and ready to start, Arteta went with other options – including last night picking Joe Willock ahead of Ceballos.

So just why has Ceballos fallen out of favour?

He was signed under Unai Emery, who clearly rated the player. But even under the former manager he was not getting a lot of game time.

It always takes a while for foreign players to settle, and we as fans got a bit excited over his debut. He certainly went backwards after that Burnley performance, and the injury had hampered him.

By the time he returned from injury, Emery was gone and Arteta was in.

Arteta is building something at Arsenal. Not just for the short term but into next season and beyond.

It is unlikely that Ceballos’s deal with turn into a permanent one, so it is logical that Arteta is thinking “why spend time and effort integrating Ceballos into Arsenal’s first team only for him to leave in 4 months”.

The better option would be to give game time to Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka, allowing them to continue their development – play the players who will be here next season.

Playing or not playing Ceballos will not be the difference between us making the top 4 or not.

Against Bournemouth, Saka scored 1, assisted 1, whilst Willock was heavily involved in both guys. The pairs performance justified their inclusion ahead of Ceballos. Martinelli – also picked ahead of Ceballos – got the other assist.

If both young Englishman continue to get game time towards the end of this season, they will continue to develop. That will mean next season they are able to make an even bigger contribution than they are this.

In Martinelli, Saka, Nelson and Willock; Arteta has his “back up front 4” in place for next season. It is better to continue developing those 4 players, then give game time to someone who will not be here in 4 months.

Ceballos, it just has not worked out.


Time for Unai Emery to “Dump the Kids”

The most enjoyable part of this season so far as been watching the continued development of the kids in the Europa League.

From home grown talents like Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe to imports such as Gabriel Martinelli. Add in Matteo Guendouzi who is now a fixture in the 1st team and the future for Arsenal looks bright.

The likes of Saka and Willock have both stepped up into the 1st team recently following good performances and injuries to others. Whilst this is credit to the pair, it is time for Unai Emery to make the tough decision and relegate both to the bench.

I am reluctant to use the word “dropped” as that is too strong a word; however that is what needs to happen.

Emery needs to get back to playing his strongest team. There is no room for sentiment.

Against Sheffield United, it was an odd decision to play Willock ahead of Dani Ceballos. It was a mistake. The 1st half passed the Englishman by resulting in him being taken off at half time.

Saka likewise failed to influence the game.

His only action of note was his yellow card for going down under a challenge which Mike Dean deemed to be a dive.

Both players have bright futures but need to be taken out of the 1st team in Arsenal’s present.

Some might say relegating both players to the bench could shatter their confidence. That should not be a concern.

If they do not have the mental strength to cope with being “dropped” then neither will make it to the top level. It should motivate them to work harder on their games and fight to get back into the 1st team. Become better players.

Against Crystal Palace tomorrow we need to see Ceballos (or even Ozil) return. Alexandre Lacazette (if fully fit) must also play upfront with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing on the left hand side.

If Lacazette is not fully fit then it should see Ceballos play left hand side (where he performs for Spain) and Ozil inside him.

There can also be the case made that Lucas Torreira should come in for Matteo Guendouzi. Many will also say he should come in for Granit Xhaka.

It is time for Emery to play his strongest XI


Bellerin Holding Luiz Tierney

Xhaka Torreira

Pepe Ceballos Aubameyang


Return Saka and Willock to the midweek team playing in the Europa League and League Cup. A half way step between the U23’s and Premier League


The Arsenal youngsters who will break through in 2019/20

Only Fulham gave more minutes to teenagers this season than Arsenal.

This would be a surprise to some of Unai Emery’s critics who have moaned that he has not given youth enough of a chance this season.

The figures are misleading, however, as the majority of those minutes were played by a single play, Matteo Guendouzi.

The only other 3 teenagers to get game time this season played a grand total of 134 minutes between them.

Whilst Emery has not given academy graduates much game time in the league, there have been plenty of minutes handed out in the cups.

Against Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League, there were 9 academy graduates in the match day squad, many of whom were local lads.

Arsenal finished 2nd in the Premier League 2, following up from being champions last season. The U18 team topped the Southern Division, before losing the final to Derby.

The Arsenal Academy is certainly in good health, even if not too many got their chance this season. Against Burnley we saw Joe Willock get a start, and Eddie Nketiah come off the bench and score.

Here we analyise what to expect from some of the best and brightest youngsters next season.

Reiss Nelson – After an exciting start on loan at Hoffenheim, Reiss Nelson’s form dropped off after the Bundesliga winter break. Discipline problems led him to fall out of favour and he ended up spending most of the season coming off the bench.

Nelson is clearly a talented kid, and a few fans got a little too excited over his performances in Germany – even calling for him to return to Arsenal in January and be parachuted straight into the first team.

He is probably still some way from being a first team regular at Arsenal; remember he could not break into the Hoffenheim XI with just 5 starts.

His development will continue at Arsenal next season where he likely to play a similar role that he did at Hoffenheim. Cameo roles off the bench. As the season progresses, he will get more game time, especially if he put sin some solid performances in the League Cup.

Eddie Nketiah – With Danny Welbeck leaving, Nketiah will find himself as 3rd choice striker between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Alexandre Lacazette.

If Emery decides to play with a 2 up top, Nketiah will the sole striker on the bench.

He does not have much time to break in to the Arsenal first team squad as Tyreece John-Jules will be itching for game time.

The one to watch out for is Folarin Balogun. The 17-year-old striker scored 25 goals in 18 games in the U18 league and at some point, he will be pushing for the game time in the cups that Nketiah craves.

For next season, Nketiah will be 3rd choice striker with John-Jules likely to go on loan and Balogun to be promoted to the U23 team.

Emile Smith Rowe – Like Nelson, Smith Rowe has been on loan in Germany, joining RB Leipzig in January. Injury has restricted him to a couple of fleeting substitute appearances lasting barely a minute.

The feeling is that he is likely to remain at Leipzig next season.

He was injured prior to going to Germany, so the logical reason for him leaving Arsenal was to spend a few months acclimatizing to a new country and living on his own. Still just 18-years-old; a year playing in Germany will see him return for 2020/21 with real chances to break into the first team squad.

Joe Willock – A year ago Willock’s future at Arsenal looked bleak. He struggled to make an impact in his Europa League appearances and the feeling was that he would not make it.

This season he has kicked on and reinvented himself as a goal scoring central midfielder. He grabbed himself 3 senior goals in the cups.

Willock turns 20 in August so has missed the window for a season long loan deal. He will be promoted to the 1st team squad, where he will provide cover for all 3 positions behind the striker and give Emery a 5th central midfield option.

The feeling is he could be a contender to be Aaron Ramsey’s replacement in the long term.

Xavier Amaechi – Next in line after Reiss Nelson in Arsenal’s stable of young, fast wingers is Amaechi. The 18-year-old saw his progress restricted this season due to injury.

Due to the injury, he has lost about 6 months of development meaning he is probably not yet ready for first team football on loan. Expect him to be ripping up the U23 league next season.

Bukayo Saka – Amaechi’s loss was Saka’s gain as the talented youngster stepped up from the U18’s to the U23’s to replace his elder team mate. Performances at this level saw him get his chance in the first team, making 4 senior appearances in total.

Like with Nelson, some have gone a bit OTT with Saka, already calling him to make regular first team starts next season. One Tweeter went as far as to say that we did not need to sign a winger for next season such is his talent.

There is no doubt Saka is talented, but there is a huge step up from U18 & U23 to the senior side.

He is still just 17-years-old so it is important that we do not rush his development.

Saka has probably now jumped ahead of Amaechi in the pecking order and could well find himself as 5th choice winger next season (behind a new signing, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan and Nelson).

His star could shine the brightest of the lot.