Arsenal legend Tony Adams was overjoyed to see a tactical tweak he has been wanting to see “for ages”, and hailed four young Gunners for their part in a memorable North London derby.
The Gunners produced a magnificent display full of energy and cutting edge to sink Tottenham 3-1 on Sunday. Arsenal signalled their intent to infuse their squad with youth this summer with all six of their signings under the age of 24.
And speaking in his role as a pundit on Sky Sports, Arsenal hero Adams described the contributions of their younger stars as “phenomenal”. Additionally, he hailed the performances of two of their summer signings who both stood up tall.
“It was a wonderful, wonderful first-half display; the kids were phenomenal,” said Adams (via the Express).
“Saka, the legs of Emile Smith Rowe up and back, they really took the game. I loved Tomi [Tomiyasu]; His his positioning was excellent.
“I thought they were exceptional all over the pitch, and the game was over in the first half. I just liked the shape, the two holding midfielders; they won every header.
“Ben White was exceptional today, imposing himself in the first 15-20 minutes; I’m excited.”
In the build-up to the match, fellow ex-Arsenal favourite, Paul Merson, called for Kieran Tierney to add an element of control to his game.
“I like Tierney,” Merson told 90min. “The problem is that he is becoming a bit of a school captain. He is trying to do everything.
“Instead of doing his job, like stopping crosses, he’s trying to do everything, so he is caught in between. Stop the cross or get back into a position.”
In Sunday’s victory, Tierney did provide an attacking outlet down the left, though did appear to curb his forward-thinking tendencies to give Arsenal’s defence a greater sense of security on occasion.
That pleased Adams who stated he’d been calling for Arsenal’s full-backs to allow the likes of Saka and Smith Rowe to carry the attacking burden.
Adams concluded: “I’ve been saying for ages these guys need to hold these full-backs in and be hard to beat. Let Saka and Smith Rowe handle it and I’m delighted the kids took it to them.”
Chelsea could hold key to Saka future
Meanwhile, Chelsea could have a major impact on whether Arsenal are inundated with a bid for Saka, per a report.
According to the Express, if Chelsea Saul Niguez outright, Atletico could launch a raid for Arsenal star Bukayo Saka. The Blues retain a £30m option to make the Spaniard’s move to Stamford Bridge permanent.
Saka was recently reported to be a target for both Atletico and Juventus. A surprisingly cheap £43m was touted as being capable of giving Arsenal a decision to make. The Express article once again cites that same figure.
Saul had been shunted out to left-back on occasion during his final season under Diego Simeone. The article claims Saka’s versatility – being capable of playing at full-back, midfield and in attack – would make him a perfect replacement.
Though naturally, the chances of an approach being launched would significantly decrease if Chelsea opt against signing Saul on a permanent deal. As such, Arsenal fans will be hoping Saul’s shaky start to life at Stamford Bridge does not improve.