View: On-fire Arsenal ace is man West Brom must stop after Arteta tactical tweak
West Brom must be wary of Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, who is a man in form and in a new-look Gunners side, Mikel Arteta is unleashing his attacking potential.
Despite being on the receiving end of a heavy tackle against Brighton, Arteta expects the young winger to be fit for the game against West Brom on Saturday.
For Sam Allardyce and West Brom, Saka is the man that they need to stop, with the 19-year-old at the heart of the Gunners mid-season revival.
Nine of Saka’s appearances this season have come down the left, with Areta previously utilising him in a number of different roles.
Early on in the campaign, Saka was used as an out-and-out left-back before being moved forward into a makeshift wing-back and later a more advanced left-sided winger.
However, against both Chelsea and Brighton, Arsenal have lined up in a 4-2-3-1 system with Saka out on the right.
This change has well and truly taken the shackles off the young talent, who scored against Chelsea and once again impressed versus Brighton.
Below, we see Saka’s heatmap against Chelsea, via Wyscout, and while you can see that he starts from the right, it is not a fixed position.
He has a license to sit quite narrow and drift inside into spaces. This is going to be crucial against West Brom, who are likely to sit deep and stay compact against the Gunners.
With Hector Bellerin maintaining the width behind him, Saka has the freedom to move into more central positions and play much closer to the central striker, as we see from his average position against Chelsea.
The added freedom that Saka suddenly enjoys in this new role reflects in his recent performances.
As per Wyscout, against Brighton and Chelsea, he completed 80% and 100% of his dribbles.
Meanwhile, in both games combined, he made five progressive runs and drew five fouls as well.
It is a remarkable improvement on the 60% dribble success rate he has averaged per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season and just the two progressive runs.
Saka put in a Man of the Match performance against Brighton as he assisted Alexandre Lacazette for Arsenal’s winning goal.
He comes into the game against West Brom high in confidence and after shipping five goals against Leeds United, the Baggies will need to be at their best to stop him.
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