Bukayo Saka can’t wait for the return of Alexandre Lacazette, but has vowed to fight the France international for his place in the Arsenal team.
Lacazette is closing in on full fitness after six weeks out with an ankle injury and could feature on Monday night when Unai Emery’s side take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Saka has benefited most from the forward’s absence, with the 18-year-old forcing his way into the Premier League starting XI following his strong performance away at Eintracht Frankfurt last month in the Europa League.
The teenager has started Arsenal’s last three league games and has impressed on the left side of the attack, particularly during the 1-1 draw at Manchester United when he set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the equalizer.
And he is determined to try and keep his place in the starting XI, even when Lacazette returns to action.
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“It’s always good to have all our best players available,” said Saka. “All of us competing makes us push to play better and better. If one player is injured then others get an opportunity but I want everyone to come back and do the best for Arsenal.
“The boss knows what I can do, what the other players can do. Different games require different players but I feel like I’ve shown the boss he can trust me. Whatever game he puts me in I’ll always give it my all.
“This has always been a dream for me. I’ve been working for this moment as a kid, in the academy. Now I’ve got to the first team I just want to give it my best to repay the faith the boss has given me.
“I just try to work hard, give my all and put in a good performance. Hopefully, after I’ve put in that performance I can build on it. If the boss trusts me to play I’ll always do my best.”
Saka is one of several youngsters who has been given a chance to shine by Emery so far this season.
Joe Willock has taken a major step forward since the summer, while Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe were also handed starts before injuries saw them sidelined in recent weeks.
And Saka believes giving youth a chance has benefited Arsenal so far this season, just as it has Chelsea, who have also blooded a number of young players since the start of the campaign.
“Both clubs have top young talent that they’re trying to integrate into the first team,” said Saka. “It’s working for Chelsea and it’s working for us, too. I hope we can continue to get the chances, play well and show the boss what we can do.”
Saka has now made five appearances for Arsenal this season and is expected to be in the squad to face Sheffield United on Monday.
He has scored once and contributed three assists during those matches, with his form having already caught the eye of England boss Gareth Southgate.
It has been a whirlwind couple of months for the academy graduate, who has been quick to credit Emery and his team-mates for his impressive form
“The boss has really trusted me and put a lot of faith in me,” said Saka. “He has given me the opportunity to work in this team. I’ve learned so much from the other players and it’s showing on the pitch.
“The players give me a lot of confidence and the boss gives me a lot of confidence. When the boss is going to start you at Old Trafford it’s going to give you a lot of confidence. I just try to go out there, do my best, play without fear and doubt.
“If the boss trusts me to do it I can do it.”