Mikel Arteta has tempered expectations over Arsenal’s teenage sensation Bukayo Saka after his stellar showing this season.
Saka, 19, has started 13 of the Gunners’ 16 Premier League games in 2020-2021. He scored in the 3-1 Boxing Day victory over Chelsea – his second league goal of the campaign.
And the talented youngster provided the assist for Alexandre Lacazette’s second-half winner against Brighton on Tuesday. That further eased the pressure on Arteta as Arsenal had gone seven games without winning prior to the Blues clash.
Despite his tender years, Saka made 26 top-flight appearances last season. He has also been capped four times by England having made his senior debut against Wales in October.
The Ealing-born ace has the world at his feet but Arteta wants to keep them firmly on the ground.
“I would like everybody to be cautious, let him be and let him develop,” he said after the Seagulls clash. “I think he’s having the right progression. I think he has the right people around him in his house, in his entourage.
“And he’s got the right team-mates as well to support him all the time, giving him confidence and keeping his feet on the floor. Then hopefully we can be the right coaches around him and the right club to see the player that he can be in the future.”
Saka limped off nine minutes from time but the Spanish tactician does not think it is too serious.
“I think he took a strong challenge, but hopefully he will be fine,” added Arteta.
Potter hails Saka magic
Brighton boss Graham Potter was also full of praise for Saka after his display on the south coast. The Seagulls held on until the 66th minute when Lacazette bagged the only goal of the game.
The result sees Potter’s men just one place and two points above the relegation zone. They face a season-long battle with the drop as a resurgent Burnley beat Sheffield United to move above them.
Arsenal were the better side after the break but Potter singled out Saka as a player who made the difference.
“I think Saka has done really well on the halfway line,” he told The Argus. “He has shown a great turn of foot and of pace and that creates the opportunity.
“We recovered a bit too fast and that has opened up the space and that is the bit we can do better. I don’t necessarily think it is down to the substitution. ‘It’s more it is that footballing action which Saka does. We didn’t adjust to that well enough.”
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