Arsenal secured a thoroughly-impressive 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt this evening, with one Gunners youngster in particular having since been singled out for special praise.
Arsenal stand tall
Unai Emery’s men travelled to Germany a short time ago, for their Europa League opener.
Arsenal headed into proceedings hoping for a bounce-back performance, with the capital giants’ positive early-season form having deserted them of late.
The north Londoners were without a win in any of their last 3 domestic outings, the latest of which saw Arsenal throw away a 2-goal lead to eventually escape with a 2-2 draw at Watford last weekend.
When all was said and done at the Commerzbank-Arena this evening, though, the Gunners managed to bounce back, and in some style.
A hectic, chance-filled affair saw the two sides exchange attacks at will, resulting in a combined total of 34 attempts at goal, more than a shot every 3 minutes.
In the end, though, it was Arsenal who came away with the win, to take early control of the Group F table.
The visitors opened the scoring shortly before the interval, when Joe Willock’s deflected strike looped over the helpless Kevin Trapp into the far corner of the Eintracht net.
A second-half during which either side could easily have bagged 3 or 4 then finally saw a crucial 2nd goal of the night come the way of Unai Emery’s men, courtesy of youngster Bukayo Saka.
And an Arsenal breakaway 2 minutes from time then allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to put a series of missed chances behind him to coolly slot home, rounding out an impressive 3-0 victory.
This brought to an end a 16-game unbeaten home streak for Eintracht in Europe, during which the Bundesliga outfit had notched 12 wins.
❌ West Ham
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) September 19, 2019
Understandably, on the back of their morale-boosting start to life back in Europe, a number of Arsenal’s stars have since been singled out for special praise by fans and the media alike.
The likes of Joe Willock, Shkodran Mustafi and Emiliano Martinez impressed throughout proceedings for the capital powerhouse, with the latter having kept the Gunners in proceedings with a series of excellent saves.
However, no player has been more widely-showered in praise following tonight’s result at the Commerzbank-Arena than Bukayo Saka.
18-year-old wide-man Saka came up through the youth ranks in north London, before first being handed a chance to prove his worth as part of the club’s first-team setup last season.
And, though he went on to notch just 4 appearances across all competitions, it quickly became clear why the English youth international has, for some time, been viewed as one of the brightest talents on Arsenal’s books.
Bukayo Saka’s game by numbers vs. Qarabag:
8 take ons completed
5 fouls won
3 shots on target
1 aerial duel won
1 chance created
A superb debut from the 17-year-old. 👏 pic.twitter.com/WvoYGHu974
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 13, 2018
It was tonight, though, that saw Saka not only solidify his status as a potential Gunners star in the making, but, all told, announce himself onto football’s world stage.
The 18-year-old had a hand in all 3 of his side’s goals in Franfurt, setting up Joe Willock’s opener and Aubameyang’s clincher, either side of finding the net with a superb strike of his own.
Bukayo Saka strikes! 🔴
He becomes the youngest Arsenal player to score in the Europa League with a great finish to cap a fantastic display! pic.twitter.com/FgUIUjYA1A
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 19, 2019
Even aside from his contribution to Arsenal’s goals, though, Saka looked a danger throughout proceedings tonight.
The teen possesses all of the traits required of a modern attacker, combining pace, touch, a sumptuous left foot, the ability to beat his man in one-on-one situations and, evidently based on his latest return, finished product.
Perhaps most impressive of all regarding Saka’s display, though, was the Englishman’s courage.
Despite being thrown in at the deep end for his first appearance of the campaign in an absolute cauldron of noise in Germany’s centre, Saka didn’t blink, looking assured in his abilities and ready to take responsibility each and every time he got on the ball.
In an atmosphere where so many of his age would no doubt have withered, the youngster flourished.
There were of course moments of fleeting inexperience where Saka’s lack of playing-time at the top level was evident, but the key was that he tried time and time again to make the difference, in a real leader’s showing.
If Arsenal’s coaching staff, and most-importantly fans, remain patient and allow their latest prodigious talent to flourish without the weight of over the top expectations on his young shoulders, then it looks safe to say that the Gunners may well have a real star in the making on their hands.
Bukayo Saka vs Eintracht
72% pass accuracy
5 key passes
3 dribbles won
1 tackle won
18 years of age. Pure quality. Would love to see him more often this season. 🔴⚪️ pic.twitter.com/XzcmNH9oYv
— FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) September 19, 2019
Social media reaction to Saka stealing the show
👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 @BukayoSaka87 ♥️
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) September 19, 2019
— Alex (@AlexJWilliams__) September 19, 2019
Saka for first team left winger for the next 15 years. (says it all)
— amy (@amyampaire) September 19, 2019
Let’s say this you gunner is 🔥 🔥🔥 well done boys 🙏🏽💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/tv4hMeVcyD
— Aubameyang P-E (@Aubameyang7) September 19, 2019
Saka has been electric all night and deserved that. Excellent composure, world class finish. We might have a player on our hands 👏🏼
— AFCAMDEN (@AFCAMDEN) September 19, 2019