Football News

Arsenal youngster Saka credits Ljungberg for “vital” role in first-team progression

By Mohamed Moallim

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Bakayo Saka

Published: 19:45, 20 September 2019

Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka has credited club great Freddie Ljungberg following his man-of-the-match performance in their Europa League win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Unai Emery’s men ran out 3-0 winners in Germany with Saka involved in all three goals; scoring once while setting up Joe Willock and then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang either side of his effort.

Saka’s game by numbers v Eintracht: Five things to know…

  • Scored one goal from two shots on target.
  • That effort was his first goal for the Gunners.
  • Created five scoring opportunities, more than anyone on the pitch from both sides.
  • Two of those chances were converted by Joe Willock and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  • He also completed three take-ons, another match-high.

It was the fifth time Saka, a graduate of the Gunners’ esteemed youth set-up, had appeared for the first team having broken through at the Emirates last season, with the majority of those previous appearances coming in Uefa’s second major club competition.

Before his Thursday night runout, Saka had hardly been used by Emery but that should change in the forthcoming weeks as Arsenal head into an extremely busy period.

After playing the full 90 minutes, the 18-year-old winger paid tribute to Emery’s right-hand man Ljungberg, who amassed 71 goals and 35 assists in 326 appearances for the north London giants during his playing days.

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“He’s been with me since I was 15 and seen me do amazing things, but he always tells me to stay humble and keep working hard because he really thinks I can be a top player,” he said.

“He’s been a player before so he understands how I would feel. He’s played in my position and it’s just so good to have him there, an Arsenal legend giving me advice. There’s not much more I can ask for.

“He was teaching me some tactics but I can’t quite remember what he was saying because he does give me a lot of information. He’s been a big part in my progress.”

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