Arsenal came away from their first leg against Benfica with a draw, and, while it should have been more, it was Bukayo Saka vs Benfica who saved the day

ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal looks on ahead of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between SL Benfica and Arsenal FC at Stadio Olimpico on February 18, 2021 in Rome, Italy. SL Benfica face Arsenal FC at a neutral venue in Rome behind closed doors after Portugal imposed a ban on travellers arriving from the UK in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Bukayo Saka vs Benfica impressed Mikel Arteta once again (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

The Arsenal youngster has been, rightly, taking all the plaudits this season as he looks to throw off said ‘youngster’ tag.

Still three years younger than Kylian Mbappe, the Arsenal man is making himself a household name with his superb performances week in, week out.

No player on the pitch was rated higher than Saka as Arsenal played Benfica in Rome, the 19-year-old picking up a 7.8.

After the game, Mikel Arteta was asked to give his opinion on the forward.

“I think he’s in a great moment, he’s full of confidence,” Arteta said about Saka who had just scored his sixth goal of the season (he also has five assists).

Bukayo Saka vs Benfica ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal scores their sides first goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between SL Benfica and Arsenal FC at Stadio Olimpico on February 18, 2021 in Rome, Italy. SL Benfica face Arsenal FC at a neutral venue in Rome behind closed doors after Portugal imposed a ban on travellers arriving from the UK in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY – FEBRUARY 18: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal scores their sides first goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between SL Benfica and Arsenal FC at Stadio Olimpico on February 18, 2021 in Rome, Italy.. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

“He’s been really important in recent results. His form is probably the highest that it’s been since I’ve been here and he’s been really consistent.

“He needs to keep going and (we need to) be wise with him because at the moment he’s a big part of the team.”

Bukayo Saka wins 2nd consecutive Player of the Month award

Bukayo Saka won his second consecutive Arsenal Player of the Month award, with the fans voting for him once again.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Bukayo Saka after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at American Express Community Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Brighton, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Frank Augstein - Pool/Getty Images)
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Bukayo Saka after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at American Express Community Stadium on December 29, 2020. (Photo by Frank Augstein – Pool/Getty Images)

Arsenal confirmed that Bukayo Saka earned 46% of the fan vote, putting him ahead of Emile Smith Rowe and Rob Holding as the club’s January Player of the Month.

Saka started in all four of Arsenal’s league wins in January, scoring three goals and assisting one from the right-wing. He also joined Bernd Leno in receiving a nomination for the Premier League’s Player of the Month award for the same month.

Rather bizarrely, Arsenal didn’t put Leno up for their own award, despite his five clean sheets in seven matches.

Saka is a deserving winner anyway, so congratulations to him. The 19-year-old sent a message of thanks to the fans.

“Thank you all so much for voting for me,” Saka said. “I’m really proud to be the January Player of the Month. Thank you again for your support, I really appreciate it. Take care, everyone.”

There hasn’t been much variation in Arsenal’s Player of the Month awards so far. Gabriel Magalhaes won the first three, and now Saka has won the next two. Perhaps that’s indicative of the fact there haven’t been many outstanding performers.

We certainly don’t have many to choose from for February so far, after consecutive defeats to Wolves and Aston Villa. It would be nice if someone announced themselves as a contender starting with a top performance on Sunday.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.