Arsenal: This has been the main reason for Mikel Arteta’s success

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Mikel Arteta has certainly won the hearts of Arsenal fans, however, one reason why sticks out above the rest…

The dreaded days of Unai Emery are long behind Arsenal supporters, and they will thank the heavens that is the case. Mikel Arteta took charge before the turn of the new year and, although he’s only had a few months to prove his worth, the Gunners have improved tenfold under his tutelage.

There are a wide array of players that have benefitted from his arrival; those include Nicolas Pepe, Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi, to name a few. However, one player has stuck out above the rest and it came as a surprise to me.

I’m talking about Bukayo Saka, the 18-year-old who is playing in an unnatural position to him. He has filled in the position at left-back to make up for the void left by Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney‘s injuries.

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However, upon doing so, Arteta has stumbled across a tactical goldmine. See, Saka being a natural winger means he naturally drifts further up the pitch, but weirdly, this actually improves Arsenal’s defending. I know, it’s a very weird club we support.

Saka is granted the freedom to play further up the pitch because the right-back often slots into the defence to cover, making an inverted back-three. This is why Hector Bellerin is not racking up the created chances he is accustomed to because this is Saka’s job on the left now.

The good news for Mikel Arteta is that this is renewable. Virtually all of his left-backs are better at attacking than they are defending since this route would work for Tierney and Kolasinac also. That said, when Tierney does return to form, Arteta will have a decision on his hands over what this means for Saka. He certainly hasn’t done anything to jeopardise his place in the starting XI.

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Do you think Bukayo Saka should retain his place in the starting XI over Kieran Tierney or has he simply been a make-do solution?