Arsenal star Bukayo Saka has been told that being on the end of tackles such as Tyrone Mings’ on Saturday was his own fault. Saka said in his post-match interview at Villa Park that he wants more protection from referees.
Aston Villa defender Mings was booked for a challenge on the England international in the first half. Mings got the ball before following through low on Saka’s ankle.
Villa boss Steven Gerrard hit out at Saka for his comments, claiming he needs to toughen up to earn a career in the Premier League. And now another Liverpool legend has given his verdict.
Former Reds defender Steve Nicol says Mings did nothing wrong and it was in fact Saka’s fault for heading into the challenge he couldn’t win. Nicol claims Saka should have gotten out of the way when he saw Mings coming towards him.
He told ESPN FC: “Tyrone Mings did his job, Tyrone Mings got to the ball first and cleared the ball. In my book, that is Saka’s fault.
“Don’t put yourself in a situation where you might get caught and certainly don’t put yourself in a situation where you know you’re going to be second to the ball. If you’re going to be second to the ball to Tyrone Mings, or any other big centre-back, then you keep yourself out of the road.
“That’s what you do as a professional. When you see these situations, and you’re not getting the ball, then you’ve got to figure out ‘what am I going to do now?’.
“Why would you go and put yourself in a situation? And all of a sudden people are looking at Tyrone Mings and saying ‘that could have been a red card’ when Tyrone Mings has done nothing wrong.
“He’s cleared the ball, because he’s six-foot four, 200 pounds or whatever, there’s going to be some sort of follow through. He’s not gone crazy and lifted his legs up over his knees or anything – this is down to Saka.”
Nicol says Saka showed a lack of football intelligence, adding: “Guys like him, you look after them [as team-mates]. And certainly guys like him have to look after themselves more than anything, because they need to have the football intelligence not to put themselves in situations where they’re going to get hurt.”
Speaking to BT Sport after Saturday’s win, Saka revealed he had talked to referee Andy Madley. Saka said: “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.”
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