Bukayo Saka scored one and assisted two more for the Arsenal first team on Thursday, making it into the official Europa League Team of the Week for matchday one.
Saka was the star of Arsenal’s u23 side last season, scoring and assisting double figures as well as winning a few penalties along the way.
Only Joe Willock could realistically be considered a contender to Saka in terms of Arsenal’s youth player of the season award in 2018/19, but the midfielder only featured in around half the team’s matches due to his senior call-ups.
The duo both started against Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday, having effectively been promoted over the summer, and they showed everyone they can do it at senior level too.
Saka assisted the opening goal of the game, playing Willock through on the counter-attack before a rather fortunate finish crept under the bar.
The winger could have had two or three more assists in the opening hour or so, setting up Lucas Torreira and Willock again in great positions, as well as almost finding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a couple of occasions.
In the end, the 18-year-old took matters into his own hands with a top-quality finish from outside the box. He even had time to grab another deserved assist, winning the ball back before quickly playing in Aubameyang to score this time.
None of this would’ve been unexpected to those who have watched Saka play before. He thrives playing left-wing on the counter-attack, taking players on and putting crosses into the box. With a striker like Aubameyang ahead of him his job is made even easier.
The goal was also typical Saka. The best thing about the youngster’s shooting is how he can gear up a powerful shot with only a step or two of run-up. He generates the power himself, meaning you have to stay close to him at all times. That, in turn, makes you an easy target for take-ons.
Not everything Saka did was perfect, and it’s clear he still has some areas to work on this season. Although his weight of through passes was great on two occasions, there were one or two others when better balls would surely have led to more goals. He also needs to learn to play against teams with packed defences, which is more difficult for a player with his qualities.
All the same, the teenager is a worthy entrant in the Europa League Team of the Week, alongside fellow Arsenal stars Emi Martinez and Calum Chambers.