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Bukayo Saka Praises Mikel Arteta Impact, Says Arsenal Coach Has 'Clear Strategy'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on December 29, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka has spoken of the influence new manager Mikel Arteta is already having on the club's players.

The new coach has endured a challenging start to life at the Emirates Stadium, having taken just one point from his first two games in charge.

However, speaking about the work being done away from matchdays, Saka has said Arteta is having a big impact and is already helping refine certain aspects of his game, per the official Arsenal website:

"He's someone who understands the players, understands the club and all the ideas that he's bringing in. He has a clear strategy of how he wants us to play, and we're just really excited to work with him.

"He's teaching us little things that we didn't know before and just bringing in his own strategies, his own ways of playing. We can see that it's going to work, we're just looking forward to doing it.Β 

"Maybe one thing that I've picked up straight away is that when nobody's pressing you, you don't need to pass the ball. What you can do is just get the ball, drive the ball forward a bit and wait for someone to come to you, commit a player, then pass it."

Arteta appeared to be on course for his first win as Arsenal boss on Sunday against Chelsea. However, an early goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was cancelled out by strikes from Jorginho and Tammy Abraham late on:

For Arteta, turning things around quickly was always going to be a big challenge. Not only does he appear intent on implementing a different blueprint to his predecessors, there are big issues in the Arsenal squad that need resolving.

James McNicholas of The Athletic noted Arsenal appeared to be struggling with the intensity the new manager wanted them to operate with:

gunnerblog @gunnerblog

I think sustaining the intensity of the first half at this point in the schedule was always unlikely. Worked hard, organisation was better, but frustrating to let it slip. Ah well. This is still barely even the beginning.

It means that it may be a while before we see the best of Arteta's Arsenal, especially with so many fixtures on the calendar at this point in the campaign.

All the indications are that Saka will play a big part in the squad, having broken into the starting XI this term. The 18-year-old has filled in at left-back recently, albeit he's typically operated as a midfielder or forward.

Per football writer Zito Madu, the youngster still needs to improve when it comes to his final ball:

Zito @_Zeets

I like Saka and he's very young but he's been so wasteful today. That final pass after good play has gone nowhere. And to be fair, Nelson has been the same as well.

With injuries to Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac, it's likely Saka will continue to operate in defence for a while yet.Β 

He'll face a big test on Wednesday when the Gunners host Manchester United in the Premier League. The attacking trio of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James have the ability to cause big problems for what has been a brittle Arsenal back line.