EUROPA LEAGUE

Ljungberg sings the praises of Arsenal prodigy Bukayo Saka

Teenager Bukayo Saka's display in Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Standard Liege in the Europa League impressed interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Ljungberg sings the praises of Arsenal prodigy Bukayo Saka
JOHN THYS AFP

Arsenal caretaker coach Freddie Ljungberg was thrilled by 18-year-old Bukayo Saka's amazing performance and contribution in this evening's crucial Europa League tie against Standard Liège. Saka capped a fine individual display by providing the equaliser for the Gunners as they drew 2-2 with the Belgian outfit in their final group game. The teenage winger had also provided the cross for Alexandre Lacazette's close-range header as Ljungberg's side battled back from 2-0 down to earn a point. It helped the team secure top spot in Group F, nudging Eintracht Frankfurt out of pole position, and means they will be one of the seeded teams in the draw for the Round of 32 in Nyon on Monday.

Saka is "a tremendous talent" says Arsenal boss

"He was amazing," Ljungberg said of Saka in his post-match news conference. "His final ball, and last bit, is always effective. He was a bit upset with me before the game that he had to play wing-back and full-back. He's a tremendous talent. I feel sorry for our young players. A lot of them haven't been on loan, they've not had that exposure to men’s football. Some of them made mistakes but they'll learn from those mistakes and won't do them again. But Bukayo had a tremendous night."

Ljungberg gamble pays off

Arsenal's display was characterised by defensive uncertainty as Ljungberg put his faith in youth against Standard. However, the 42-year-old former Sweden international preferred to focus on the manner in which his side fought back to draw. He added: "I'm really proud of them. They showed belief in how they can play football. It's good for us in the future. The energy, they go and go. They don't stop. We played really well in our game-plan in the first half. They didn't have any shots on target. We should have maybe been one or two up at half-time. We got sucker-punched a bit, they scored two deflected goals. You can't really slam the players for that. We could have folded but we didn't. At 2-2, we could have got a 3-2 but I had the information about the other score so we didn't go too hard. Of course, it was a small gamble but I believe in those young players and they pulled through and we're top of the group."