Bukayo Saka has become a talisman for Mikel Arteta’s new look Arsenal and the manager has praised his strong mentality as key to his current success.
Mikel Arteta has hailed Bukayo Saka’s mental toughness, with the Gunners winger having been a catalyst in his side’s ascent to the summit of the Premier League table so far this campaign.
Arsenal are top of the Premier League and have won 13 of their 14 matches in all competitions so far, with Saka having recorded five goals and four assists during that period. His manager has praised the Hale End graduate for his change in mentality and how it has been reflected in the squad this season.
The Gunners have often been accused of mental fragility in recent years, with Arteta himself even admitting to doubting himself last season.
However, this season has seen a complete transformation, with impressive wins against Liverpool and Tottenham so far in the league helping to boost confidence.
He has praised Saka for his improvement and when asked how he thought the 20-year-old had made such a positive change, he said it was based on his mentality, explaining: “Up here – robustness is in your mind.”
“It’s about how much you want it, how tough you want to be with yourself, how pushy you want to be with yourself and what you must do to get to that level. The gym is very important, but what happens in your brain I think is more important.”
Arteta also explained how the club environment, along with Saka’s family, was helping the England player of the year to thrive at such a young age as part of a youthful and exciting set-up in North London.
He added: “I think he has a really powerful environment around him – his family, the people around him, the way he’s been raised. He has some important people in his life, some really good influences as well. And then everybody at the club that tries to protect him, but as well challenge him and push him to get to a different level.”
“There are a lot of factors and we do it all together. I don’t have all the answers, the fitness coaches don’t have all the answers, the data doesn’t have all the answers – it’s something we have to work out all together.”
“Obviously we want to protect our players and when there is a risk of overload, and they can get into that frame where they get injured, then you don’t do it.”
“But to protect our players also means they need to have the robustness to play those matches when it is necessary, and after the World Cup it’s going to be absolutely crazy with the amount of games we’re going to have. We need to be prepared for that.”