Teen star Saka impressed again in Monday’s 2-1 FA Cup win at Bournemouth, firing a fine goal from his makeshift left-back role.
The 18-year-old also laid on Eddie Nketiah’s tap-in to cap a fluent Gunners move, then later hailed new boss Arteta’s growing influence at the Emirates Stadium.
“Mikel’s trying to bring back the philosophy, the Arsenal passing way and I feel like we played really good football in the first half,” said Saka. “We played some good bits of football and the goal obviously was very good.”
Arsenal manager Arteta hailed Saka for grafting hard to grasp the extra defensive responsibility required to thrive at left-back, though the Cherries were so poor in the opening half-hour that the Gunners were hardly on the back foot.
Sam Surridge claimed a consolation goal for the hosts in added time but Arsenal strolled through without issue to book a fifth-round tie at Portsmouth.
“That’s the situation now because we don’t have any left-backs at the moment,” said Arteta, of Saka’s shifting into defence. “What I like is that he’s put his head down, it’s not his favourite position to play, but we try to adapt him with his qualities to play him as much as possible in the position that he likes.
“But then he is very willing to learn all the defensive principals that we are asking him to do and his attitude is very good.”
Saka linked well with Brazilian teen forward Gabriel Martinelli and admitted forging a strong relationship with the Gunners’ 10-goal star.
“We train a lot together and we speak a lot and we’re good friends,” Saka told Arsenal’s official club website. “Over time we’re speaking about how we’re going to beat the defenders and how we’re going to get in behind and score goals.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies