Bukayo Saka is one of the best in the league at taking an opponent on and beating his man, but his style of play can cause him to get fouled more often than most players with his close control. A main setback is players much larger than Saka constantly fouling the talented wide man, which can lead to injuries if Bukayo Saka isn’t protected correctly from referees.
A couple of weeks ago Thierry Henry sent a message to Bukayo Saka:
“Big players are not nice. If you wanna be big, if you wanna be the guy… big players are not nice.”
Bukayo heard. Bukayo listened. Bukayo is going to the very top. #afc pic.twitter.com/Xt2TtlztMJ
— now.arsenal (@now_arsenaI) February 19, 2023
In the 4-2 win at Villa park Bukayo Saka was getting fouled left, right and centre by the likes of Tyrone Mings (who stands at 6’5ft) and also has a past of dirty challenges. Saka reached breaking point when Phillpe Coutinho went through the back of him, resulting in the tricky winger lashing out.
After numerous cynical challenges towards Saka, he started limping, temporarily injuring him, resulting in him staying down for a lengthy period. Because of this a lot of fans have come to the conclusion that Saka should be protected more from referees, which doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment.
Arteta admitted that loads of wingers go through the same treatment as Saka (Wilfred Zaha for example) and that the English-born star even gets kicked about in training at London Colney. Despite being kicked on the floor continuously in games, he produces the magic time and time again, like the stinging volley he scored yesterday.
In a post-match interview, Mikel Arteta was asked by a journalist about putting more protection in place for players like Bukayo Saka to save them from injury. The Arsenal boss said:
“We will discuss that. We will look at the images again and report it if its necessary.”
The boss then went on to say that the amount of contact Saka withstands is due to his play style and it even happens on a daily basis at training sessions at Arsenal because players struggle to retreat the ball in a legal manner:
“He’s fine – he got kicked quite a lot again, but he’s going to have to deal with that, not every week, but every three days. Sometimes in training as well. it’s his game – teams are not stupid and they want to stop him. We need to protect him.”