‘So good’ Saka joins Arsenal’s 100 club

Gunners winger ‘has earned every minute’

Thursday, 4th November 2021 — By Steve Barnett

Bukayo Saka

MIKEL Arteta heaped praise on Bukayo Saka after the Arsenal winger notched up his 100th appearance for the club on Saturday.

Saka (pictured) marked the occasion with an assist for Gabriel in the 2-0 victory at Leicester City – stretching the Gunners’ unbeaten Premier League run to seven games.

“I think he has earned every minute that he has played,” said Arteta this week. “First of all, with his character, how humble he is and how willing he is all the time to learn. And then how well he’s playing.

“He’s so good – he’s affecting the games in many different ways and he still has big things to improve.”

With just five minutes on the clock Gabriel rose to head home Saka’s corner at the King Power Stadium. It was Arsenal’s fourth goal from a set-piece this season. Only Liverpool, with five, have scored more.

It’s an area of the game that the Gunners have been working hard on, especially after recruiting set-piece coach Nicolas Jover in the summer.

Arteta said: “It’s a process, a process that the players are really involved in. They know that attacking and defending is vital in the game and they are so decisive and treat them [set-pieces] like what they are.

“It’s another big part of the game, and when they help you to win matches, it’s really important.”

Meanwhile, Kieran Tierney is facing a race against time to be fit for Arsenal’s Premier League clash against Watford on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium.

The left-back has missed the Gunners’ last three games with a niggling ankle issue. He was expected back almost two weeks ago, but Arteta has since admitted Tierney has been struggling.

“He is still in pain. He is not comfortable when he is running, so he was struggling,” said the Arsenal boss. “We are trying to help him as much as possible. We need him back and I don’t know when that will be.”

With the international break following the Watford game, Scotland manager Steve Clarke was more optimistic over Tierney’s situation this week.

Clarke’s side travel to face Moldova in Chisinau next Friday (November 12) before hosting Denmark at Hampden Park three days later.

He said: “I think Kieran will be on the plane and, if he’s on the plane, he’ll be fit. That’s my opinion but look, you have to respect the club, and the club are telling us he’s working his way back to fitness.

“They’re hopeful he could be involved this weekend against Watford, but if he only gets a few days’ training in, then fine. We don’t play until a week on Friday, so he’s got time on his side.

“I expect that Kieran will be fit.”

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