'I think it would work': Paul Merson questions Arteta's use of 'fabulous' Arsenal player...after just one PL game
Paul Merson has suggested that Mikel Arteta is using Arsenal star Bukayo Saka in the wrong position, just one game into the season.
The former Gunners midfielder was writing in his column for the Daily Star ahead of Arsenal’s game with Leicester City this weekend. And Merson, who is known for his outspoken views, has suggested a change of position for a certain Bukayo Saka.
Saka, who shone last season for Arsenal, predominantly features on the right of the attacking four. However, Merson thinks the Gunners need a change of formation to adapt to Saliba’s return, and believes Saka could be well-served as right wing-back.
Merson Wants Saka At Wing-Back
Of course, Saka has filled in at wing-back for Arteta at times when duty has called. But Merson believes it should be a more regular occurrence for the young England star.
“Mikel Arteta should switch to three at the back now that William Saliba is in Arsenal’s team – even if it means giving Bukayo Saka the graveyard shift. I think that system suits them. Oleksandr Zinchenko is a natural wing back for me, bombing on, and Saka can do the same job on the other side,” Merson commented.
“Arsenal will be dominating a lot of matches this season. Not against the top, top teams but against many of the others they will. People might say Saka is wasted at wing back but he can play well up the pitch in those games. He will get plenty of chances to join the attack. White is very comfortable coming out on that side behind him, and that would give Saka a licence to go forward. Plus it’s very easy for that to become a four very quickly with White slotting in at right back if Saka wants to go forward.
“The only issue is that Saka would be doing a lot of running every week, because they call that wing-back role the graveyard shift. But you could protect him against burn-out by bringing him off with 20 minutes to go in matches where you’re just seeing the game out. I think it would work.”
TBR’s View: Merson’s Saka Suggestion Could Hinder Others
Playing 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 with wing-backs is a good idea from Merson but it also requires specific jobs and roles and could hinder others in the team. Where would Martin Odegaard go, for example, and the likes of Smith Rowe.
There is no doubting Saka can play as a wing-back. The only issue is if it is to the detriment of the rest of the Arsenal XI.
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