The Premier League have been a breeding ground for a lot of talented players throughout the years and it has remained the same even now.
Arsenal have been one of the elite clubs of England and their academy has given a lot of talented footballers to the game. From Wilshere to Smith-Rowe there has never been a scarcity of talent at the Emirates. Such a young talent coming through the Gunners’ ranks is Bukayo Saka.
Saka made his senior team debut in the league on January 1st, 2019 in a 4-1 home victory over Fulham as a substitute. Since then , Saka cemented his place in the team and became Arsenal’s player of the season in 2020/21. The wide attacking midfielder was one of the main attractions in their attack.
The 20-year-old was called in England’s Euro 2020 squad by Gareth Southgate, being the youngest player among the ranks and put in a string of attractive performances. Despite facing criticism after missing the penalty in the final, he still remains one of the biggest potentials in world football.
Saka has had a fine start to this season again and has been one of the biggest reasons behind Arsenal’s revamp after a disastrous start.
We look at his stats from the league so far.
Predominantly a left-footed wide midfielder, Saka started the season on the left hand side but after losing three consecutive matches Arteta switched him to the right side of the pitch. The red and orange zones in the above image shows that he has spent the majority of his time near the left-wing. But due to the fact of being equally comfortable of playing on both feet , he has been effective even on the right. Saka can play as a left-back as well if needed and has dropped deep for a significant amount of time to provide Arsenal with extra defensive cover and also to help out the team to progress the ball forward easily. Extremely mobile, he has covered a lot of ground.
The 20-year-old has played passes all over the pitch, majority of them being on the left flank in the attacking third. Saka has played a total of 195 seasons with an accuracy of 81%, averaging 55 touches per 90 with 35 passes. He is an extremely intelligent passer of the ball and has tried to sneak in through balls for his teammates into the box time and again. He has played through balls through the centre with xT sometimes as high as 0.1380. However, his passing accuracy hasn’t been that prolific compared to his club mate Emile Smith-Rowe and has lacked some sort of cutting edge but he also delivered crosses into dangerous areas into the box from both flanks. His one and only assist till now, to Smith-Rowe against Tottenham speaks for it.
His passing accuracy lacks a lot of conviction as he has ranked way below the league median in terms of accurate passes. But his vision and quick thinking on the pitch, helps in playing a lot of smart and through passes ranking 89th percentile and 76th percentile in the league respectively. His creativity also sees him rank 87th percentile in terms of assists provided per 90.
Saka has taken most of his shots from inside the box but has not been able to make the most of it. Most of his shots have been off-target or saved by the keeper, scoring only once. But his solo goal against Tottenham , after dribbling three players and calmly slotting it home past Hugo Lloris while being under pressure tells about his composure and control on the ball. He still has a shot accuracy of 67%.
The English youngster is a very talented and exquisite dribbler. Being very agile he can easily get past a couple of players without being dispossessed. This is one of the best attributes of the boy along with finding ways to find his teammates which other people certainly do not think of very easily.
At the age of 20, he has already been named Arsenal’s player of the season and has gained his manager’s trust and confidence , starting every single game so far. With a lot of room for improvement, Saka can definitely emerge into one of the best wide midfielders of this generation. Arsenal would be counting on him for a future with him looks certainly bright.