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Bukayo Saka says Mikel Arteta has found right blend of youth and experience

Bukayo Saka believes Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has struck the right balance between youth and experience.

Arteta has not been afraid to back his young talent over more established names and he did so once again in Sunday’s 4-2 Premier League win over Leeds.

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hat-trick grabbed the headlines with Hector Bellerin also on the scoresheet at the Emirates Stadium before the visitors rallied and halved the deficit through Pascal Struijk and Helder Costa.

But there were good performances from Arsenal’s precocious talents as Saka and Emile Smith Rowe both claimed assists and full debutant Martin Odegaard looked good at times.

The likes of club-record signing Nicolas Pepe, summer recruit Willian and striker Alexandre Lacazette were only among the substitutes as Saka hailed Arteta for keeping faith with the less experienced members of his squad.

“It’s perfect,” the England international replied when asked about Arteta picking young players alongside the likes of Aubameyang and David Luiz.

“Because as a young player you get experience around you and people to guide you when things aren’t going well.

“They can give you confidence, instructions and things like that. I just feel like he (Arteta) has got the right balance for us at the moment.”

Aubameyang’s first-ever Premier League hat-trick came on his return to the side, having not started any of the previous five games after leaving Arsenal’s Covid secure bubble to visit his ill mother.

Arsenal v Leeds United – Premier League – The Emirates Stadium
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores from the penalty spot en route to a hat-trick for Arsenal in the 4-2 win over Leeds.

“He is amazing, I can’t speak highly enough of him,” Saka said of the striker.

“He showed everyone how much quality he has, when he gets a chance he is going to put it away.

“He can do everything, so we are so happy to have him and it’s good that he got a hat-trick for his confidence. We have a big week ahead and we hope he can score some more goals for us.

“The last two games we lost, but I thought we were quite unlucky. So to get this one over the line, get the win, it sets us up for quite a tough week and gives us a lot of confidence going into the games.”

Leeds threatened a memorable comeback after Struijk and Costa made their mark, the latter one of two substitutes made by manager Marcelo Bielsa at half-time.

Speaking after the game Bielsa bemoaned a poor first half but felt his side had the better of the game after the interval.

Struijk, whose powerful header brought his first goal for the club, revealed Bielsa had called for more energy during his halftime team talk.

“We didn’t bring the energy we always bring, so it’s a bit disappointing we didn’t do that,” he said.

“The majority of what was said was to bring the energy back, then the football will come.

“It’s such a difference when we do that, our football is so much better.

“It means a lot to me to score my first goal but it’s just disappointing that we lost the game.”

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