On Wednesday, Premier League leaders Arsenal hosted Everton in the postponed matchday 7 game, which did not take place due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. This was a very important game for the Gunners, as it finally allowed them to catch up with Manchester City in the number of matches and translated the lost points tally into actual points. For the initial whistle, the rojiblancos only had +2, which was to blame for three consecutive failures in the first half of February: a draw with Brentford and defeats against Man City and… Everton.
The second match against the “Toffees” at first also failed. Sean Dyche’s wards locked in their third of the field in a defensive 4-5-1 scheme and trapped the opposition on counter-attacks. In the 40th minute, they even delivered twice as many shots (4-2) as the hosts. And then the Gunners’ brightest player, Bukayo Saka, came on the scene.
In a positional attack, he moved smoothly from the flank towards the center, reached the penalty line, with two light lateral steps took off left-back Vitaliy Mikolenko and found himself in a free position a meter from him…
Photo source: Arsenal YouTube channel
… after which he waited for a pass from Oleksandr Zinchenko, sharply turned 180 degrees away from Mykolenko (that is, he turned his back on him, blocking the path to the ball), threw the ball forward and hit the “nine” further nearby. from an acute angle with a cannon shot, wowing Ballon d’Or winner Michael Owen.
Already in the stoppage time of the first half, Saka blocked Idriss Geye on the edge of the penalty area and gave Gabriel Martinelli a one-on-one. The rest was a matter of technique. The Brazilian realized his timing, and in the second half Arsenal led the score in a big way (4: 0) and comfortably settled at the top of the standings.
SAKA OBTAINED ARSENAL 14 POINTS
This victory was the third in a row for the Gunners, and now they look to the future with confidence again. After all, they have such outstanding talent as Saka at their disposal. In 25 Premier League games this season, he has 10 goals and 9 assists.
What is especially valuable is that this is not an empty statistic, because many times the winger takes effective actions at decisive moments in matches. Thus, their goals against Liverpool (3:2), Leeds (1:0) and Everton (4:0) were victorious, against Brighton (4:2) and Manchester United (3:2) they put the Gunners ahead, and in matches with Manchester United (1-3), West Ham (3-1), Man City (1-3) and Aston Villa (4-2) they leveled the score.
Photo source: FC Arsenal
A simple calculation suggests that his goals earned Arsenal seven points and, taking assists into account, twice as many. That is to say, without them, the Londoners now with 46 points would be third behind Man City and Manchester United.
Lighting up on time is an exceptionally useful quality, suggesting we’re not dealing with a rising star in the Premier League, but rather the main driving force behind Arsenal’s quest for the title.
“NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, YOU DON’T BOTHER ME”
“I’m a big fan of his,” says Premier League top scorer Alan Shearer. “I think he is great for Arsenal and the Premier League. If they can renew his contract, he will give this club a big boost. He is an absolute superstar in the making, capable of ranking alongside Kevin de Bruyne. He has a long way to go, but I like his attitude. Rivals come out to trample him. He gets hit a lot, but he always gets up. And in his eyes: “You don’t bother me. No matter who you are, no matter how hard you try to hit me, I’ll be back. I like that attitude.”
Shearer changed a really important detail. Saka is the best dribbler in the league. This season he has beaten the defenders 50 times, which is the best result in the Premier League (by the way, it is worth noting that his teammate Martinelli is in the top five: 41).
Photo source: FC Arsenal
However, in terms of the number of rule violations, it is only ninth. And this is a very interesting fact, which is exactly what Shearer explains. Unlike Jack Grealish, Saka’s goal is not to score a free kick, his goal is to pass, break through the defense, find an opportunity to create a scoring chance. For this reason, Saka tries to resist in martial arts, after tackles and trips. Fouls, as a rule, are fixed in a situation where it is already completely impossible to stand on your feet. As a result, Saka creates more and more cards for opponents and for his team – really dangerous free kicks, because the closer the goal is, the more difficult it is to apply.
6+3 IN 10 MATCHES AFTER THE 2022 WORLD CUP
In the context of the title race, it is also important that in 10 Premier League games since the 2022 World Cup, he has scored six goals and provided three assists, which means he is in excellent form at the moment. If the winger doesn’t slow down, he can bring his team another 10-12 goals, and given the state of Manchester City, who have yet to win four games in a row, this is a sure path to the first English title. since 2004. If the Gunners succeed, fans will idolize Sack, as Thierry Anti, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and other superstars once did.
And he will become a serious Ballon d’Or contender himself. In the end, who else to claim the award but the brightest player in the strongest league on the planet? “Saka is one of the best wingers in the world. Let’s face it. He lacks attention. If he played for Real Madrid or Barcelona, he would already be in contention for the Ballon d’Or, ”says Sky Sports pundit Jay Bothroyd.
PS A happy piece of information for the fans and the coaching staff of Arsenal. Three of the four most prolific under-21 players in the major European leagues are rojiblancos: on loan at Reims, Folarin Balogun (15 goals), Martinelli, Jamal Musiala (11 each) and, indeed, Saka (10).