Football News

Saka ready to challenge Lacazette for Arsenal starting role

By CJ Smith

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Bakayo Saka

Published: 16:48, 21 October 2019 | Updated: 8:44, 19 December 2022

Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka feels he is ready to challenge Alexandre Lacazette for a place in Unai Emery’s team.

The Gunners travel to Sheffield United on Monday night and finally have Lacazette available after the France international was declared fit from an ankle injury which had kept him out since the start of September.

Could Saka hold down a place at Arsenal? Five things to know…

  • Saka made his Arsenal debut against Vorskla Poltava last season.
  • This season, he has one goal and three assists in five games across all competitions.
  • The absence of Alexandre Lacazette through injury has allowed Saka more game time.
  • Lacazette is now fit to play but Saka still feels he is able to hold down his Arsenal spot.
  • Emery recently stated his pleasure at Saka’s improvement.

Saka has been one of the Arsenal players to step up in his absence, scoring once and notching three assists in five appearances across all competitions since September 19.

And the England under-19 international believes he is ready to hold down a place of his own in the starting XI, regardless of Lacazette’s availability.

“Do I feel ready to challenge him? Yeah!” Saka said.

“It’s always good to have all our best players available, all of us competing makes us push to play better and better. If one player is injured then others get an opportunity but I want everyone to come back and do the best for Arsenal.

“The boss knows what I can do, what the other players can do. Different games require different players but I feel like I’ve shown the boss he can trust me. Whatever game he puts me I’ll always give it my all.

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“It has always been a dream for me. I’ve been working for this moment as a kid, in the academy. Now I’ve got to the first team I just want to give it my best to repay the faith the boss has given me.”

“Emery gives me a lot of confidence”

Saka’s form has seen him earmarked for a step up to the England under-21 team, while it may only be a matter of time until Gareth Southgate gives him a call-up to the senior side, if his development continues.

But rather than be overawed by pressure, Saka is embracing the attention coming his way, insisting he is fuelled by the confidence Emery and his Arsenal teammates give him.

“The players give me a lot of confidence,” he said. “The boss gives me a lot of confidence. When the boss is going to start you at Old Trafford it’s going to give you a lot of confidence.

“I just try to go out there, do my best, play without fear and doubt. If the boss trusts me to do it I can do it.

“I don’t feel the pressure. I try to go out there and not think about the outcome, just focus on the things I can control. Even if things aren’t going well I just work hard and the game will take care of itself.”