If there was one word that could adequately describe Arsenal’s season this year, it would have to be “exhausting.” It’s seemed like whenever the club took a step forward, they would soon take one or two steps back. They are a confounding team to look at. While they have one of Europe’s best goal-scorers in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as well as a stellar goalkeeper in Bernd Leno, an inconsistent midfield and a downright broken back line have limited Mikel Arteta’s boys to only 7th in the Premier League.
But with everything going on, Gunner fans woke up on Wednesday to some good news for a change. One of their most exciting young talents, left winger and left back Bukayo Saka, has signed a new long-term contract that will keep him at the Emirates for the foreseeable future.
Saka has been a steady force for a club that desperately needed it. In all, the 18-year-old has appeared in 33 senior level matches, including 21 in the Prem and six in the Europa League. Over all those games, he’s bagged three goals and has added 11 assists. He’s the first teenage Gunner to reach double digits in assists since club legend Cesc Fabregas did so in 2006-07.
One other thing that makes Saka such an exceptional youngster is that Arteta can move him around the pitch without any problems. Over this season alone, the English International has played all along the left hand side of the field including at the wing and on the back line. Most of his playing time has seen him at the back, but he’s actually faired best when slightly higher up at a more defensive midfielder role. Over two games when he’s played there, he has sported a 7.89 WhoScored.com Player Rating, his highest at any position.
Coach Arteta explained to Arsenal.com that his mentality on the pitch is what impresses him above all else. “He wants to make things happen all the time, he is not afraid even if he is 18-years-old – it is one of the best things he has.”
The former assistant to Pep Guardiola added, “I am excited to continue working with him to develop him further, and for him to help us achieve our goals.”
Now this move may not totally end Arsenal’s struggles of late, but good news is certainly a sight for sore eyes for any Gunners fan. The club has several more player contracts to potentially extend before the year is up, and they also need to find new heroes to save the once dominant side. But this is certainly a good start.
Featured Image Credit – John Sibley/Reuters via The Times
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