EPL

'I'll make sure he takes the next one' - Arteta maintains Saka penalty support

By Sports Desk April 20, 2023

Mikel Arteta insisted Bukayo Saka will take Arsenal's next penalty, despite the England international failing from 12 yards in last weekend's 2-2 draw with West Ham United.

Saka, who had been successful from both his previous spot-kicks this season, shot wide at the London Stadium, with his miss proving costly as the title-chasing Gunners surrendered a 2-0 lead.

It was the 21-year-old's first failed attempt from 12 yards since Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma infamously denied him in the Euro 2020 final 21 months earlier.

Nevertheless, Arteta was full of praise for Saka, who he is confident can use the setback to his advantage during the title run-in, which resumes against bottom side Southampton on Friday.

"He loves responsibility, but he puts a lot on his shoulders as well," the Spaniard said during his pre-match press conference.

"Again, if he had any doubt about how much people love him, respect him and admire him at the club, I think he had a very overwhelming reaction from everyone in the building and the club.

"In the end, I think it can be something very positive that can give him a big lift because everyone acted in an unbelievable way towards him. He deserves it because of the way he is."

When asked if Saka would step to the spot again, Arteta replied: "Yes. If not, I will go on the pitch and pass him the ball and make sure he takes the next one."

Arsenal are four points ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand, at the Premier League summit, with Saka playing an instrumental role in his side's season.

The winger has been directly involved in 22 goals (scored 12, assisted 10) with only Gabriel Martinelli (14) netting more for the Gunners, while Kevin De Bruyne (15) is the only player to provide more assists in the English top flight.

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