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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Bukayo Saka reveals coping mechanism when players try to ‘smash’ him –

Bukayo Saka says it’s in his nature to laugh at players who attempt to “smash” him, as long as he manages to avoid the contact.

Arsenal’s in-form winger is one of the most fouled players in the Premier League, with manager Mikel Arteta previously calling for protection for Saka from referees.

The 22-year-old, who has chalked up 16 goals and 12 assists in all competitions this season, is in a rich vein of form for the Gunners, scoring seven goals in his five Premier League games. His uptick has coincided a goal glut for Arteta’s side, propelling them firmly back into the title race alongside Liverpool and Manchester City.

Speaking to beIN SPORTS, Saka spoke of his ability to stay calm in the face of persistent fouling, adding that he now understands why defenders look to target him after deciding to confront them on field.

“When I go on the pitch I’m there to have fun and to enjoy,” he said. “I would say I learned a lot over the last few seasons, when I started to get more and more tackles and defenders have started to enjoy more and more kicking me, I spoke to a few defenders and now I understand it.

“So for me, when I see a defender trying to smash me, as long as he doesn’t get me, I’m laughing or I’m smiling because I take it as a compliment.

“I don’t think a defender would be calling for help or a defender would want to smash me if he didn’t see me as a threat. So, for me, if he tries to smash me and I get away with it, I just laugh and just get on with the game, because I guess it’s part of it.

“I’m not going to say names because I feel like those conversations should stay between me and them, but I’ve had a few conversations with opposition, even sometimes the players here, when I ask, ‘why are you guys like this? Why do you just want to smash players?’

“They just explain to me so I understand and once I understand it’s easy for me to to get on with it more. As long as no one tackles me really, really badly [it’s okay] because obviously I don’t want to be injured or I don’t want to be playing through pain, I don’t think anyone wants that.”

Saka added that defenders are simply trying to do their job, which in turn has made him focus on keeping his composure and concentration at all times.

“Obviously, the defender is only trying to do his job and protect his goal, and I’m only trying to do my job and get towards his goal. So we’re all just trying to do our best for the team. I just try and keep my temper, because I know when I do lose my head, I don’t play well. I hope I haven’t given a secret to the opposition there.”

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