Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has called on teammates to “protect” Bukayo Saka from the Premier League’s hatchet men.
Saka hobbled off against Nottingham Forest recently after one a number of hefty challenges this season.
“The better the players become, the bigger target they become because people try and find ways to stop him,” Arteta said ahead of tonight’s trip to Wolves.
“The referees have the duties to deal with that.”
But Arteta said there are ways Arsenal can help Saka avoid further punishment.
“There is a part we can do better and we have to be more intelligent… things he needs to do on the pitch,” he said.
“The timing, the decision making, the space that you have generated before that action and the understanding and knowledge of what is going to happen before it happens.”
When pushed for examples of what should change, Arteta suggested Saka’s team-mates can be more forgiving with their service, explaining: “Sometimes the type of ball we give him and when we give him certain balls.”
Saka must come through one final examination at Molineux today before joining up with Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup. Arteta warned his players heading to Qatar that they must not think about avoiding injury.
“I always say to them if you’re thinking about an injury then probably it’s going to happen,” Arteta said.
“Get it out of your mind, you are professional athletes, this risk is always there for you so commit yourself to your job and every action, and the risk will be less.”
Saka has continued to take pressure penalties for Arsenal and Arteta backed him to deliver for England, too. The manager has spoken to Saka about living with the pressure of such pivotal moments.
“If you want to take your game to the next level and win football matches every three days… you have to deal with it,” Arteta said.