Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard gave a warning to Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka, that he needs to strengthen up after the latter asked for increased safety from the referee during the clash that resulted in a 1-0 win for Arsenal.
Bukayo Saka told BT Sport that he talked with the referee, Andrew Madley, after the treatment he received from the Aston Villa players during the match.
“I wasn’t complaining to the ref but I just wanted to let him know that that’s my game, running at players with pace, and sometimes I need a bit more protection when players are purposefully trying to kick me,” Saka said.
However, the Villa boss had other things to say as he spoke in the post-match conference,
“It’s part of the game. The last time I checked it’s not a no-contact sport. I think tackles are allowed, physicality’s allowed.
“He’s a good player, he’s an outstanding talent and I love him. But he can’t complain about that side. That’s football.
“I’m sitting here now with screws in my hips, I’ve had about 16 operations, I’m struggling to go to the gym at the moment. That’s all on the back of earning a living in English football. He’ll learn and he’ll learn quick.”
Meanwhile, Saka’s coach Mikel Arteta answered the same question differently, saying: “We have to listen to the players. They are the reason why we are all here.”
Arsenal brace themselves for the fight for a Champions League berth next season
Talking about the remaining fixtures in hand, the Spanish manager added, “We have 10 games to go and what we did yesterday or today, it’s not relevant, it’s what we’re going to do tomorrow, how we’re going to prepare and how we’re going to improve the team and play better to win more games.”
“When we’re so dominant like we were, we have to score the second and the third one.”
The 1-0 win at Villa Park, thanks to a goal from the 20-year-old winger Bukayo Saka, saw them bounce back from defeat by Liverpool F.C and move four points clear of rivals Manchester United, with a game in hand.
Arteta said that Bukayo Saka was fatigued and had an issue with his hip after the midweek clash against Liverpool.
“He was really fatigued and after Liverpool, he had an issue with his hip,” said Arteta.
“He’s played a lot of minutes and you could tell. We don’t want to risk (anything). He needs to go with England now and we decided the best thing to do was to take him off.”
Arsenal, currently fourth in the Premier League table, are well on their way to secure a Champions League spot for the first time in many years. Arteta’s men have a 3-points lead ahead of Tottenham with a game in hand with a very important few games coming up for the North London team.