Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta has his own Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg
Arsenal heroes Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg were instrumental to their success at the turn of the century. But Mikel Arteta has two players of his own who could be compared to the legendary duo.
Pires and Ljungberg both won three Premier League titles and three FA Cups during their time at Arsenal. The pair were known for their goalscoring prowess from out wide.
Pires surpassed 10 goals in each of his six seasons with the Gunners, while Ljungberg achieved that feat on three occasions. They were also big providers for their team-mates, forming relationships with the great Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.
Arsenal may not have any players who can be compared to the latter two yet. But Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are on their way to replicating Pires and Ljungberg’s success.
Saka says French stars Henry and Pires have supported him at Arsenal
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Saka has scored 10 goals in the Premier League this season with 13 games remaining. He has also registered nine assists – only Kevin De Bruyne has more.
Erling Haaland and Harry Kane are the only two players to have more goal contributions than Saka in the English top flight this term. Meanwhile, Martinelli is the Gunners’ top league goalscorer.
His brace against Everton on Wednesday took him to 11 goals, to go with two assists. Martinelli is not yet as consistent as Saka but recent signs show that could be on the way.
A statistic revealed by OptaJoe outlines the pair’s importance to the Arsenal side. Three of the top four highest-scoring players aged 21 or under in Europe’s top five leagues this season are contracted to Arsenal.
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Bukayo Saka sits bottom of the shortlist, with Martinelli level with Bayern Munich star Jamal Musiala in second place. Out on his own at the top is young striker Folarin Balogun.
Balogun is currently on loan at French side Reims and only Kylian Mbappe has more than his 15 goals in Ligue 1 this term. Arteta will be hoping the New York-born star can produce the goods in the Premier League when he returns to Arsenal in the summer.
But Martinelli and Saka are already doing it in what many believe is the best league in the world. Arsenal don’t have an Henry to score them 25-plus goals in a campaign.
They need their wide players to produce even more than Pires and Ljungberg did. And both Martinelli and Saka are on their way to doing just that.
Pires’ highest league tally in a season was 14, which he managed three years in a row. Ljungberg’s best was 12, so the current Arsenal duo could already be in line to outdo the former stars despite only being 21 years of age.
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