Bukayo Saka has shared some of the elementary advice Mikel Arteta has given the Arsenal players in his early days in charge, admitting that the concept of avoiding needless passes when there is no pressure on the ball has been something of a revelation to the Gunners.
Arteta joins Arsenal as a highly-rated, if inexperienced head coach, and has struggled to lift the spirits in his opening two games, managing just a single point from clashes with Bournemouth and Chelsea.
He is in the job for the long-term project, however, and Saka has expressed some early optimism at the new coaches methods…even if some of the advice being offered out is less-than-groundbreaking.
UM, WHAT? Bukayo Saka said Arteta is teaching the players things they didn’t know before, then gives an example and my head is about to explode. How’s it possible that this is something these players don’t know? This is seriously baffling to me. https://t.co/a5g2NcxC1t pic.twitter.com/4TXz0a3BkS
— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) December 30, 2019
“He’s teaching us little things that we didn’t know before and just bringing in his own strategies, his own ways of playing,” the 18-year-old said, in an interview with Arsenal’s official website..
“One thing that I’ve picked up on straight away is that when nobody’s pressing you, you don’t need to pass the ball. What you can do is just get the ball, drive the ball forward a bit, and wait for someone to come to you, commit a player, and then pass it.
“Then that man will be free or that man will have less pressure on him. It’s just attracting players to you before you pass the ball off, which will help our teammates a lot on the pitch.”
Of course, this isn’t an indictment on Arteta for starting with the basics. Clearly, if your players are oblivious of the concept of inviting pressure to free up space before playing a pass, then it is a valuable and worthwhile instruction.
Nor is it an indictment on a young player like Saka for being unclear on the fundamentals of the game. It does, however, lead you to question previous coaching methods, if something so rudimentary is indeed being brought to a senior Premier League team – supposed to be performing at an elite level – as a completely new concept.
It’s truly a tough one to wrap your head around, but at least for Arsenal fans, it means there is perhaps even more room for improvement than previously thought.