Arsenal legend Ian Wright has claimed that “everybody is worried” about Bukayo Saka due to his workload and the weight of expectation on him.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a stratospheric rise to the top of the game in the past 18 months and is now one of the first names on Mikel Arteta’s team sheet.
Saka’s latest display, in the 3-1 Premier League win over Southampton on Tuesday night, saw him deliver another superb display as he registered a goal and an assist.
The Hale End graduate now has five top-flight goals this season, more than every other teenager combined.
He is also the second English teenager to score for Arsenal in consecutive Premier League appearances, after Ashley Cole just over 20 years ago.
However, Wright noted how Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe had to go off with cramp, indicating the amount of work they had to do, and expressed his concerns about Saka too.
“When you consider Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe had to go off with cramp, that just indicates the amount of work they were doing,” Wright said on Matchday Live on Optus Sport.
“Saka, everybody is worried about him because he is so young and he has the weight of being expected to create for all of Arsenal – same with Smith Rowe and when Martinelli comes back – but they are doing it at the moment.
“Arsenal have to play with that intensity. They kept it simple, closed them down, got forward quicker, and they are able to punish teams.
“Smith Rowe went off with cramp today, you’re hoping Saka can stay fit, if anything happens to those guys, from a creative point of view, those are the guys that are pushing Arsenal forward alongside Thomas Partey (and) if anything happens to them it could start to stall again.”
Whilst last season was mostly difficult for Arsenal – until right at the end anyway – Saka’s breakthrough was one of the main positives, and he’s certainly going from strength to strength this term too.
Fans, pundits and peers are running out of superlatives for the 19-year-old, and Wright is absolutely spot on to highlight the team’s reliance on him and the risk this involves, because when he doesn’t play, the Gunners struggle a lot more.