It’s been a exciting new year so far at least for Premier League giant Arsenal after starlet Bukayo Saka inspired them to a 4-0 victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns stadium on Saturday.
The Gunners have made a tremendous return to form since Christmas and, with young players the driving of Mikel Arteta’s squad, that has showed no sign of slowing down in 2021.
But it’s 19-year-old Bukayo Saka, who has been the standout performer so far. After sustaining a minor injury at the AMEX stadium earlier in the week, he made a quick recovery to aid his once again. Come rain or shine – or, in this case, snow – Saka is always ready to support his team-mates.
Although another teen was forced to miss out as Gabriel Martinelli was left on the bench to allow the Gunners boss Mikel Arteta to play experienced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left and Alexandre Lacazette up front.
The Gunners started the match on the front foot and, within the first 20 minutes, Saka had ambitiously curled two balls into the box for Aubameyang to get on the end of, but he failed to do so. It proved to be an unproductive afternoon for the Gabon striker whose desire to score did not match that of the energetic Saka as he took corners, won balls back for his team, and made attempts at goal.
Thankfully, the Englishman’s hunger was matched by 23-year-old left-back Kieran Tierney. The Scot proved that attack is the best form of defence as he charged down the left flank with more intent, more drive, and posed a greater threat than Aubameyang. After a fearless run into the box, Tierney gave the Gunners a well-deserved lead with a stunning solo strike in the 23rd minute of the game.
Saka’s repositioning, from playing on the left to now playing on the right, has allowed left-back Kieran Tierney to push forward a lot more, while he dominates the right flank.
Yet, the teenager stands out because he makes runs all over the pitch and creatively connects team-mates, which was evident again on Saturday as he linked up seamlessly with Hector Bellerin, Emile Smith Rowe and Tierney. It was this fluidity that saw Saka double their lead five minutes later.
From Emile Smith-Rowe to Saka to Lacazette to Smith Rowe to Saka and into the goal. This is the type of passing play that Arsenal are renowned for and most effective at, passing unselfishly until they reach the target. Here, they did it with such ease and such pace that they were formidable – and Saka was at the centre of it.
In second half of the game, Bukayo Saka made a lot contribution before substituted in the 71st minute.
Bukayo Saka's game by numbers vs. West Brom:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 2, 2021
6 touches in opp. box
2 shots on target
1 chance created
1 take-on completed
Another sublime display from the 19-year-old. ✨ pic.twitter.com/7XaHr1F2En