Rio Ferdinand: Saka a more dangerous opponent than Mahrez

Bukayo Saka

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka offers more of a threat than Man City flanksman Riyad Mahrez, according to Rio Ferdinand, who says he would have preferred to defend against the latter in his heyday.

The Gunners lead the way at the top of the Premier League ahead of defending champions City after 17 games and Bukayo Saka has been a chief driving force behind the Londoners’ rise to the table’s summit.

The England international has outscored Mahrez by six goals to two in the Premier League this term and Rio Ferdinand believes Saka would be a tougher all-round player than the Algerian to mark.

Ferdinand praises Saka’s “pace”

When comparing Saka and Mahrez on his FIVE YouTube channel, ex-Manchester United and England star Ferdinand said, “‘If I had to play against one or the other, I’d rather play against Mahrez over Saka, because [of] Saka’s pace.

“For me as a defender if I was going to play full back, he’d want to go by you all the time.

“He’s a threat always to go behind you, whereas Mahrez takes little breathers in games.

“Listen, Mahrez is nuts. In terms of take-ons either way, he’s one of the most efficient and effective.”

21-year-old Saka has been averaging 1.2 dribbles and 2.2 key passes per Premier League fixture for Arsenal this term, compared to the 0.7 and 1.4 figures posted by Mahrez in the same metrics, though Saka has started all 17 of the Gunners’ matches in the division compared to Mahrez’s six.

Riyad Mahrez Man City

Saka and Mahrez to go head-to-head in the FA Cup

Premier League title chasers, Arsenal and Manchester City, were drawn together in a tantalising FA Cup fourth round tie, which has been pencilled in for January 28th at The Emirates Stadium, and their encounter at the end of the month will be their first of the campaign so far.

Their first Premier League meeting of the season was postponed last year, which means that the teams’ FA Cup clash at the end of the month will be the first of a hattrick of showpiece showdowns between the giants between now and May.

After their cup contest, Arsenal and Man City will meet in the league for the first time on February 15 in London again before they collide on April 26 in what could be a title decider at The Etihad Stadium.

Saka and Mahrez’s last encounter

Bukayo Saka and Riyad Mahrez last shared a pitch for their clubs all the way back in January 2022, when Manchester City battled their way to a 2-1 victory over the Gunners at The Emirates Stadium.

Saka actually put Arsenal in front after 38 minutes in North London before Mahrez netted an equalizer from the penalty spot shortly before the hour mark.

Spanish midfielder Rodri popped up with a dramatic equalizer in the 92nd minute to secure maximum points for City, however, Saka and Mahrez were both chief protagonists in the contest.

Mahrez also got his name on the scoresheet when City visited The Emirates for a Carabao Cup tie in December 2020. The wide attacker was one of four players to score for the Cityzens in a comfortable 4-1 triumph. Bukayo Saka wasn’t part of the Gunners’ matchday squad on that occasion.

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