Mikel Arteta praised the attitude of Bukayo Saka after the 18-year-old’s switch to left-back in the last couple of weeks.
With Arsenal low on full-backs midway through the month, Freddie Ljungberg picked Bukayo Saka to play at wing-back against Standard Liege.
The game didn’t exactly go to plan though, and Saka ended up moving to left-back before scoring and assisting in a two-goal comeback. Ljungberg joked afterwards the teenager didn’t seem too happy about the position change.
Unfortunately, the next game made the switch a bit more permanent. Sead Kolasinac picked up an injury against Manchester City, and Saka has played 320 consecutive minutes of league football at left-back since then.
Far from complaining about it, Mikel Arteta says Saka is learning the value of self-sacrifice for the team.
“He’s learning that you are able to adapt and that you are able to sacrifice for the team, and [you learn that you] don’t use excuses,” Arteta said.
“If you are moved, (you don’t want) to say ‘OK, now if I do not play good, I have the right excuse because this is not my position’.
“It’s the complete opposite. Try to learn, try to pick things up straight away and try to be more productive for the team. I think he [Saka] has done it really, really well.
“When you play more games and you become more mature, you start to make better decisions all the time. You can sniff where the danger is, depending on the result, how many minutes are played and what happened in the last two actions. We have to help him to do that.”
Does Saka need a rest now?
Saka did suffer the effects of constant match action late on against Chelsea. After a positive performance, he looked to be struggling with cramp as he chased back for the away side’s winning goal.
The youngster should get a chance to rest after Wednesday’s game against Manchester United. It’s 10 days until the next league game after that, and Arsenal should rotate against Leeds in the cup.
For now, largely through lack of alternatives, Saka has to keep starting.