Arsenal came away from what looks like their most difficult match of the Europa League group stage with all three points. The win was thanks in no small part to the efforts of the younger players on the pitch. Chief among them was Bukayo Saka, who created two goals and scored another.
Bukayo Saka the Unlikely Hero in Germany
Unai Emery elected to play three fairly inexperienced players in key attacking roles against Frankfurt. Saka started on the left wing, Joe Willock through the middle and Emile Smith Rowe on the right all playing behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
This was somewhat risky from the manager. The trip to Germany is, on paper, the club’s most difficult fixture in the group stage and no one would have blamed Emery if he had named a more experienced midfield.
However, the Spaniard’s faith in his young players paid dividends. Willock got the game’s first goal, although it was via a very lucky deflection, and deserved as much for his display on the day.
The 18-year-old got the assist on both Willock’s and Aubameyang’s goals and fired in one himself. But Saka did much more than that on the night.
The winger completed five key passes on the night, more than any other player on the pitch. He also dribbled past three opponents, joint-most with Joe Willock, and completed two of his three crosses, second only to Granit Xhaka.
It seemed like every time Bukayo Saka touched the ball, something good would happen, even if it didn’t always come off. He constantly tortured defenders from the left and his efforts seemed to energize the entire team.
Due to the player’s modest age, it would be foolish to say he will undoubtedly become a first-team regular in the future. However, the early signs from Saka as well as Willock and Smith Rowe are all positive.
The Premier League returns on Sunday as Arsenal host Aston Villa. Due to the fact that a number of first-team regulars were rested in Germany, expect to see a similar starting XI to that which played Watford last weekend.
After that, the League Cup returns and the Gunners will host Nottingham Forest and a familiar face, Carl Jenkinson.
Embed from Getty Images