Bukayo Saka's quiet impact
5 min read

Bukayo Saka's quiet impact

Bukayo Saka's quiet impact

After two matches Bukayo Saka has 0 goals and 0 assists. Arsenal's right-hand side has been fairly quiet after last season when it felt like every good thing the team did came down that side.

That has led to questions if there is something wrong with Saka and Martin Odegaard.

Let me just come right out and say no, I don't think that there is.

Last year one of the best ways to disrupt Arsenal's attack was to neutralize Thomas Partey in the build-up (which I think both Crystal Palace and Leicester did fairly well as he has not been nearly as influential in attack) and then look to limit Saka's ability to cut inside and create danger.

The truth however is that I don't think that it is true that Saka has been kept quiet at all in the opening two matches. Looking at the team's Goal Probability Added which is a measure capturing how a player's on-ball events impact the team's chances of scoring, he is still among the most impactful players on the team.

Olesksandr Zinchenko has been very good so far this season leading the way and I think helping pick up the buildup slack with teams targeting Partey but not far behind him is Saka.

One of the big things that I think is hurting his big counting stats is that his average touch location is out by the touchline in the far wide right lane.

One of the key aspects of creating valuable actions is generally being in locations closer to goal and in more central locations. This is how it looks where he has created value so far this season.

Overall, yeah there is more that is possible from Saka. He was player of the season and has come into the season with sky-high expectations.

I think this is the key takeaway, SKY HIGH EXPECTATIONS.

I think that he can and probably will meet the expectations that have been thrust upon him because he is a special player but I think that is driving a lot of the initial feelings about his opening matches so far. His actual performances have been quietly impactful and if a few events were slightly different the narrative around him could be completely different.

Week 3 Simulated Odds

Saturday kicks off with Tottenham hosting Wolves. They will be without Conte but on paper this is not a particularly tough fixture. Wolves are a team that really overperformed last year, the start of this season hasn't massively altered my view of them. I am not personally going to wake up before dawn to catch this one.

The 7am kickoffs (3pm for you UK people) features some matches that would intrigue a nerd like me. Everton bs Forest will be a good measuring stick match for both teams, same with Fulham vs Brentford. Leicester vs Southampton could be an interesting match to see if Leicester are actually not bad and can take care of business against a not very talented Southampton team.

I am especially interested in Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa, these are two teams that I am higher on than most. I think Villa could be a team that challenges for the last European spots and Crystal Palace continues to be a very solid middle-tier team. This is probably the match that I start with.

The late Saturday match is the Arsenal vs Bournemouth match. After taking care of business in an impressive fashion Arsenal are looking at two newly promoted teams to help really pad the opening point totals.

Arsenal are massive favorites here even with Bournemouth having the home field advantage.

One interesting thing from the early results is that Bournemouth are actually rated as a decent defense, they combined that with an attack that isn't rated good but it will be something to watch.

Sunday's early matches aren't that interesting for me. I will probably zag and watch West Ham vs Brighton. I came away from West Ham's match against Forest thinking less of them, I had them as a borderline European team and now think they might be solidly midtable instead. This match against Brighton will be a chance to re-evaluate that as just a fluke or something actually true.

The late Sunday is the oil money derby or whatever cool nickname can be thought up for this clash.

This is one that could be more interesting in the future as Newcastle uses their money to move up the table but right now they will be pretty heavy underdogs.

The last match of the week is the big Monday Night Football for the "Crisis Conch."

The favorites to come out of this match as the club most in crisis is Manchester United but Liverpool could be on the verge of their own crisis if they fail to win. It would be a major blow to their title hopes to only have 2 or 3 points after three matches.

Arsenal showed last year that it is not impossible to bounce back to still have a good season after losing their first three matches but this is something that could really cause a meltdown if it happens for Manchester United.

Regardless of the result, some fan base is going to come out of this really pissed off.

Thanks for reading. Yee Haw 🤠