Gunners’ academy player Bukayo Saka was praised by pundits after his mature performance against Manchester United during Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. After showing that he can produce on one of the biggest stages in world football, it’s a no brainer that Unai Emery should select him to start their Europa League tie against Standard Liege on Thursday.
After scoring against Eintracht Frankfurt in his last European game, the 18-year-old can pick up where he left off and continue to build a winning mentality that the club has severely lacked in recent years. The youngster will also benefit from getting minutes under his belt. Having scored just the one goal in eight appearances for the Gunners, gaining more experience will only improve his maturity as a player as well as his composure during high-pressure situations.
The young Englishman could provide Arsenal with a different dimension of pace and trickery down the left flank. With more teams than ever contending for the top four Champions League places this season, Unai Emery will require every ounce of resource possible to complete the club objective.
As an 18-year-old prospect with a point to prove, Saka has the potential to make the same impact that the likes of Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford did during their respected campaigns.
This season will be pivotal in determining if Emery believes Saka has the talent to earn a long-term contract at the Emirates. Failure to reach the Champions League for a fourth successive season would be a huge blow to the Spaniard’s future and one that could cost him dearly at the end of the season.
Saka still has a lot to learn in English football, but it is down to the manager to teach him. Arsenal’s game against Standard Liege is the perfect opportunity for the 18-year-old to make his mark and to turn over a new leaf on a possible long working relationship with Arsenal.