According to the Mirror, Mikel Arteta experimented in yesterday’s 3-2 friendly defeat to Championship outfit Brentford by deploying promising starlet Bukayo Saka in a central midfield role.
It’s claimed that Saka played as a No.8 alongside fellow academy graduate Joe Willock for the first-half of the encounter, before reverting to his natural left-wing position for 15 minutes before he was subbed.
The Mirror add that Saka and Willock were deployed as twin No.8s in a midfield three which features Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos at its base.
Arteta often goes with a 4-3-3 formation when Mesut Ozil isn’t in the starting lineup, as opposed to the Gunners’ usual 4-2-3-1 system.
The report states that Saka operated in between Brentford’s midfield and defence, with the Mirror adding that the ace was occupying the space between full-backs and central midfielders.
The Mirror add that Saka has played once in central midfield at senior level, though this was for less than half an hour under Unai Emery earlier in the season.
Saka has been one of Arsenal’s brightest sparks this season, the 18-year-old has starred out of position at left-back whilst the likes of Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac have struggled with injuries.
The England youth international featured in his natural winger role earlier in the season, but since Arteta has come in, Saka has been exclusively used at left-back.
The ace has scored three times and chipped in with an impressive nine assists across all competitions this season, perhaps it’s this eye for a pass that will make Saka a hit in the middle of the park.
With the Mirror adding that last summer’s big-money signing Tierney is now fully fit as the return of the season nears, it’s not surprising to see that Arteta is trying to find a new role to ensure Saka remains in the team after such an impressive breakthrough campaign.
The 18-year-old has little chance of finding minutes in his natural left-wing role, as this is where skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is usually deployed.
Saka seems like a great all-around talent, so testing the star in central midfield seems like a no-brainer from Arteta, he’s good on the ball and is a brilliant passer.
Arsenal face off against Manchester City next week in their first game back, should Arteta surprise his former employers by lining up with Saka as part of the midfield?