Bukayo Saka continues to thrive as Arsenal’s converted full-back provides 10th assist of the season in Premier League victory over Everton
- Bukayo Saka excelled once again during Arsenal clinched a 3-2 win over Everton
- The full-back was introduced on 18 minutes after Sead Kolasinac was withdrawn
- The 18-year-old set up Eddie Nketiah for a third assist in as many appearances
- Gareth Southgate will no doubt be keeping an eye on this talented prospect
As Eddie Nketiah wheeled away towards the corner flag, a first Premier League goal of the season under his belt, the Arsenal forward dialled a few numbers and put an imaginary phone to his ear.
Moments earlier, the 20-year-old had leapt skyward and stretched his right foot high enough to divert Bukayo Saka’s whipped cross beyond Jordan Pickford.
With that, Nketiah had repaid Mikel Arteta’s faith after the Arsenal boss started him ahead of Alexandre Lacazette for the second league game running.
Bukayo Saka skips past Djibril Sidibe during Arsenal’s 3-2 home victory over Everton
And with that, their converted left back had another assist for his bulging collection.
That’s now three in his past three appearances, ten for the campaign and counting. No Arsenal player has as many and no teenager can match his Premier League tally either. It would come as no surprise if he has some calls to answer next month.
Are there many English left backs playing with the confidence and quality of this 18-year-old?
Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw and Danny Rose are all ahead of him in the international pecking order as it stands.
But ahead of a crucial summer, Gareth Southgate could do worse than blood this England Under-19 prospect whose reputation is building with every game. Particularly with Nigeria sniffing around for his services, too.
Arsenal players celebrate Eddie Nketiah’s equalising goal at the Emirates Stadium
For a kid of 18, that may be a decision for another day.
For now, he continues to cement his place on Arsenal’s left flank.
Saka said last week that he sees his future further up the pitch – and that this stint in defence would only make him a better winger.
But if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
After all, this place has known a few young forwards who have made the conversion to left back with ease.
Amid a season of turbulence and mediocrity, the 18-year-old has been a rare beacon of hope.
Saka prepares to come on as a substitute on 18 minutes after Sead Kolasinac’s arm injury
Yes, the likes of Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock have relit the well-worn path from academy to Arsenal first team.
But none has made the impact of Saka. In a few short months he has developed into a key outlet in Mikel Arteta’s developing side.
The drifting, floating Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang provides him with the space to shine. Now Arsenal just need to secure their futures for the long term.
Saka is out of contract at the end of next season and with every passing week his value to this side increases.
Saka faded in the second half, but he continues to make his mark on this Arsenal side
Against Everton on Sunday, the 18-year-old came into the fray only after an early injury to Sead Kolasinac.
It would appear Arteta is keen not to overuse him after 90 minutes against both Olympiakos and Newcastle in the past seven days.
Here, Saka certainly faded during the second half as some sloppiness crept into his game. Thankfully he’d already made his mark.
Less than 10 minutes after coming on, the left back worked a yard of space and put the ball on a plate for Nketiah.
Continue in this vein and Saka’s phone will keep on ringing for some time yet.
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