The 2019/20 season has been far from perfect for Arsenal.
Three managers, an early Europa League exit and sitting barely in the top ten makes finding any positives a hard job for anyone. However, one of the stand out players for the Gunners this campaign has been 18-year-old Bukayo Saka.
The England Youth International has had an amazing breakthrough campaign, featuring in all four competitions both as a winger and a full back.
Despite Unai Emery giving him his debut, it has been under Mikel Arteta where Saka has really shone.
In a way, he was thrown in the deep end, being deployed in an unnatural left wing-back position, owing to the long-term injuries of Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney.
However, Saka has shown unbelievable confidence in adapting to his new position, which is in part thanks to Arteta’s system of play.
The former Manchester City number two likes to start with four at the back, which develops into a three, allowing the full-backs to play as inverted wingers.
This, of course, takes the burden of learning to be a natural full-back away from Saka, so he can play further up the pitch, but at the same time he has worked extremely hard for the team both in attack and defence. But where Saka has caught people’s attention has been in his contribution to goals.
In his 29 appearances for the first team this season, Saka has scored three goals and made nine assists, which is more than any other Arsenal player.
These numbers are certainly impressive, especially considering he has been playing out of his natural position most of the time.
Saka has confidence in abundance, a trait that flows through the team when he is at his best, always looking to take on opposition players in one-on-ones and linking cleverly with his teammates.
Gabriel Martinelli is another youngster having a superb season and has not only formed a potential new bromance with Saka, but created a deadly partnership whenever they play together in attack.
Arteta has shown a lot of faith in his younger players, seeing them as first-team regulars now rather than laterm not only because of talent, but also because it will save the club a lot of money in future transfer windows.
The Hale End Academy has been producing some exciting young players of late and Arteta is reaping the rewards for trusting in it, including Saka, who is a graduate of the academy.
While question marks remain over a number of first-team players’ futures and a reportedly low transfer budget in the summer, Arteta would do well to trust Saka to make the step up as a regular.
A player who has buckets of talent, great adaptability and vast potential, Saka could be the ultimate money saver for Arteta’s side, as they look to rebuild and get back into the Champions League.