Bukayo Saka

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International

Bukayo Saka scores on England Under-19 debut

Bukayo Saka

We had three players in international action on Wednesday. Scroll down to find out how they got on:

Bukayo Saka scored just three minutes into his England Under-19 debut, helping the Young Lions beat Moldova 4-0. Our teenage winger came off the bench to replace Wolves’ Morgan Gibbs-White and made an instant impact by finishing Stephen Walker’s through ball to net England’s third.
 
Conor Gallagher and Danny Loader had opened the scoring, before Saka and Steven Sessegnon completed the rout. Emile Smith Rowe played also played 70 minutes on the right wing.
 
Granit Xhaka played the first half of Switzerland’s friendly defeat to Qatar in Lugano. Villarreal’s Akram Afif scored the game’s only goal, firing home the winner just four minutes from time to condemn Switzerland to their third defeat in four games.

Granit Xhaka

We could have a number of players in action on Thursday, too.
 
Folarin Balogun, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Tyreece John-Jules and Arthur Okonkwo are all in the England Under-18s squad for their clash with Netherlands at 5pm (UK time).
 
Reiss Nelson could feature for England Under-21s against Italy at 5.30pm.
 
Bernd Leno’s Germany host Russia, while in the Uefa Nations League Sokratis’ Greece take on Finland, with both games kicking off at 7.45pm.

Bernd Leno

Interview

‘I managed to get here and I’m not stopping now’

New Year’s Day 2019 will always have a place in Bukayo Saka’s heart.

That’s the date that the 17-year-old came off the substitutes bench to make his Premier League debut - becoming the first player born in 2001 to make an appearance in the top flight.

Bukayo replaced Alex Iwobi with three minutes remaining in our 4-1 win over Fulham, adding to his two appearances in the Europa League late last year.

Now he has a big decision to make - what does he do with his treasured matchday shirt?

“I think I’ll give it to my mum and dad, but I think they’ll probably frame it and give it back to me!” Bukayo told Arsenal.com. “That’s what I think I’m going to do with it.

“Right now I’m feeling so happy,” he went on. “I feel blessed to have made my debut and get minutes on the pitch. I just want to thank my family, my friends and everyone at the club who’s helped me to get to this stage.

“It’s been a tough stage, a long stage, but through hard work and determination I managed to get here.

“I’m not stopping now. I’m very hungry. I just want to work hard with every chance I get. In training I just want to impress the coach so I can get back on the pitch.”

Interview

Willock - Saka is brilliant, he can be unstoppable

Bukayo Saka

Joe Willock scored twice in a fine midfield performance during our 3-1 win over Forest Green Rovers on Wednesday night - but he was quick to praise his 17-year-old teammate Bukayo Saka afterwards.

The skilful winger won the penalty that allowed Willock to open the scoring, before assisting his second of the evening with an inch-perfect pass behind the Rovers defence.

We spoke to Willock after the final whistle - and this is what he said:

on our first-half performance… 
I thought we had to be mature because we know that they’re older and more mature than us, so we had to turn them over a couple of times to earn the right to play and I thought we did that well. We stuck to the game plan.

on controlling the game in the second half… 
Obviously there’s still a lack of maturity in our team because we’re still very young, but if we cut that out then we can continue to be a brilliant side.

on Bukayo Saka setting up both of his goals…
He’s still young but he’s a brilliant player. We all know in the camp that he’s one of the most talented players we have in the team. He’s very fast and if you play to his strengths he’s unstoppable at times.

on how he helps Saka… 
Obviously I have to keep him grounded every day in training, but I just tell him to express himself and I try to protect him on the pitch because he gets a lot of kicks. He’s a very skilful player.

Joe Willock

on Ljungberg giving him freedom to push forward…
Freddie’s given me a lot of freedom this season and he’s told me to get in the box and score goals, but I’ve also got to get back! I’m just expressing myself, doing what he’s telling me and I’m loving it.

on what Ljungberg has taught him…
He’s taught me so much. He’s telling me about different positions to pick up in the game so that I can get on the ball, and he’s taught me more defensive work like rotations too. I’m really enjoying working under Freddie.

on what was different compared to our previous two showings…
We had a little dip after our unbeaten run, but we had to bounce back. We knew that before the game it was going to be a tough one and we knew that we had to be strong and not concede, even if we have to work for the goals, we knew that we can’t concede early, so we done that and we’re going to push on from here.  

Interview

‘Saka is a great talent… he’s going to get better'

Bukayo Saka scored his first goal at under-23 level on Friday as we cruised to a 4-0 win over Liverpool.

The 17-year-old had made a series of impressive substitute appearances prior to this fixture, but for the first time this season, Freddie Ljungberg opted to start him on the left wing.

“Bukayo is a great talent and played very, very well today,” Ljungberg told Arsenal Player.

“We’ve given him 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there to help him get used to the tempo, the speed and strength of opponents, and he’s taken it in his stride.  He’s just going to get better and better, keep his head down and keep on working.

“We won 4-0 and if you look at the clear-cut chances then it could have maybe been seven or eight nil, so that’s the only downside. We need to get better at our finishing, but as a coach I can’t be disappointed. I must be very happy.”

Nketiah

Eddie Nketiah and Daniel Ballard also delivered professional performances, as two of the more established members of the under-23 side.

“It’s not just about going forwards - we have to defend as well and we did that well today,” Ljungberg added. “Danny is a very good defender and him doing that (goal-line clearance) is great. It helped his team and we scored a goal right at the end.

“As for Nketiah, he’s very rapid in his movement, he’s quick, and he has that little turn that he can do quickly so that he can get a sniper shot away. He’s a very, very good player.”