Bukayo Saka has equalled an Arsenal record set by Paul Merson.

With his start against Crystal Palace on Monday evening, Bukayo Saka became the first player to play 82 consecutive Premier League matches for Arsenal since Paul Merson achieved the feat.

Merson represented the north London club between 1985 and 1997. He won two league titles in his time at Arsenal, including the famous triumph of 1989. Like Saka, he regularly featured on the right wing, achieved huge success at a young age, and had an eye for goal.

Saka will be expecting to surpass Merson’s Premier League tally of consecutive appearances with a start against Fulham at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Saka will also be hoping to surpass Merson’s success in terms of the amount of silverware he won with the Gunners, too.

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Crystal Palace v Arsenal FC - Premier League
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Arsenal need to strike balance with Saka

Mikel Arteta is incredibly reliant on Saka. The 21-year-old is a talismanic figure for Arsenal who has already produced plenty of magic moments for the club. The most recent of which came on the opening day of the current campaign when he scored a brilliant goal from distance against Nottingham Forest.

The future of the north London club is largely being built around the 28-cap England international, who signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal in May, worth £195,000-per-week.

Despite Saka’s star quality, Arteta must guard against becoming over-reliant on him, or burning him out. Arsenal will have to play plenty of important games this season, now that they’re back in the Champions League, and squad rotation will be key to ensuring that they can compete right up until the end of the campaign. 

Saka deserves to overtake Merson’s record, but at some point he will need a rest, and the likes of Reiss Nelson and Fabio Vieira will have to show that they can step up in his absence.

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