Mikel Arteta agreed with the notion that Bukayo Saka has ‘nerves of steel’ after a question from a journalist following Arsenal’s 3-2 comeback win against Benfica to advance in the Europa League.
Saka wasn’t playing any games at all this evening, the 19-year-old produced an amazing pass to assist Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 20th minute.
Arsenal looked doomed when they fell 2-1 down in the 61st minute after a horrific Dani Ceballos error, but Kieran Tierney pulled a goal back before Saka came up clutch once more in the 86th minute.
Saka, who is finally seeing most of his action in his natural winger role this season, dazzled Benfica substitute Nuno Tavares on the right-wing before floating in a cross that Aubameyang headed in.
Arteta admitted that Saka found a way to ‘produce’ this game-winning moment, despite being ‘fatigued’ and with little opportunity for ‘rest’ this season.
“It is (nerves of steel), and as well because he’s really fatigued. He’s played a lot of minutes, he hasn’t had much rest.”
“We asked him to go again and produce this moment, and the boy has done it against a really difficult formation – the way they were so deep and there were very small spaces – but he’s found a way to do it again.”
Saka debuted for the Gunners in the 18/19 campaign but became an important first-team figure last season, making 38 appearances for the senior side across all competitions.
The Arsenal academy graduate has managed to kick on to the next level this season though, appearing 31 times so far and contributing 13 goals (six goals and 7 assists), which leaves him just two shy of his tally last season, with the final third of the campaign left to play.