Ian Wright has now warned Mikel Arteta that the Arsenal manager must manage the minutes Bukayo Saka plays ‘very well’ for the Emirates Stadium club to win any titles.
The Gunners hero is adamant that Saka will be an instrumental element for any success that Arsenal achieve under Arteta. But the north London outfit risk going without a major trophy if the 22-year-old is consigned to the treatment room at London Colney for an extended run.
Saka has just eclipsed Paul Merson’s record for playing in the highest number of consecutive Premier League games at Arsenal. The midfielder’s 82-game run stood for over 26 years but the forward is now on 84. He has featured in each of their top-flight fixtures since May 2021.
Saka is an essential part of Arteta’s Arsenal plans
Arteta relies heavily on what Saka brings to the table having seen the star score 27 goals and offer 20 assists across his 84 consecutive outings. He also started the winger in 80 of those games. Saka’s haul further includes two goals and one assist in four games so far this term.
Leandro Trossard also added another assist to Saka’s tally when the Belgian scored Arsenal’s last-gasp equaliser in the Community Shield. Arteta played Saka throughout their Wembley encounter with Manchester City. He also played him 10 times in cup competitions last term.
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Saka only failed to feature in one of a potential 49 games across all competitions for Arsenal in 2022/23. Arteta rested the Hale Ender as the Gunners lost 3-1 to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup. Saka also played in 43 of a potential 45 games in the 2021/22 season.
International breaks have rarely given Saka a rest either, with Gareth Southgate often relying on the Arsenal product for England. He has played in 24 of a potential 33 matches since May 2021. Saka sat out one team in that period in March 2022 after testing positive for Covid-19.
Why is Wright ‘worried’ about Saka at Emirates Stadium?
Wright is ‘worried’ that Arsenal will have to manage without Saka if Arteta does not manage his minutes, though. The Gunners icon fears the winger missing any fixtures due to an injury given how opposition clubs often resort to fouling the forward to stop him being a problem.
“This is why everyone is so worried when he is kicked all over the place,” Wright explained on the Handbrake Off podcast. “That is the only thing that is going to stop him.
“Every time he is kicked and you see him played in games you think, ‘Could he have been rested in this game? Does he need to be playing?’
“Sometimes you are worried because if Arsenal are to achieve anything, he is going to be one of the main reasons we get to what we want to get to. I think we’ll get there. But as long as he is managed very well.”