Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is fascinated by the consistency of youngster Bukayo Saka and has promised to protect the player after he scored the equalizer for the Gunners in the 1 all draw away to Portuguese outfit Benfica in the Europa League on Thursday.
The game was played at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions. Regardless, the Gunners should have come away with a win.
However, this was not the case as Bukayo Saka came to the rescue after Benfica took the lead through a penalty that was converted by Pizzi. Saka scored his 6th goal of the season on the night and it was his 5th goal since St Stephen’s Day.
“I think he is in a great moment,” Arteta said of the England international.
“He is full of confidence, he has been really important in the recent results, his form is the highest probably that it has been since I have been here and he has been really consistent.
“He needs to keep going and doing what he is doing because at the moment he is a big part of the team.”
When questioned on the amount of responsibility the teenager is handling in the team, Arteta replied:
“I think that we have to protect him and keep the expectations where they should be.
“But I am not going to put a break in his development or how much he can do week in, week out.
“We have to support him, give him the best possible advice all the time and manage his minutes so he can maintain his level.
“He has been a real threat, he is involved in a lot of goals all the time and the consistency of his performances makes him a starter obviously, it is a fine balance but at the same time he is 19 years old so we have to protect him.”
Meanwhile, Aubameyang was not in his elements, days after hitting a hat-trick in the Premier League against Leeds United. Hopefully, his poor performance doesn’t come back to haunt the Gunners when they play as the home side in the second leg in Athens.
“Well, these things happen,” said Arteta.
“He was on the end of the biggest chances we had tonight. He was a real threat, that’s why we played him again today against this opponent with [defensive] line that they propose all the time.
“He was unlucky, of course, not to score two or three tonight because in normal circumstances that would have been the case.”