Bukayo Saka insists Chelsea goal was no fluke - but there's no doubting his talent

Max Cooper
Dec 26, 2020, 8:45 PM GMT
Bukayo Saka is Arsenal's golden boy
Bukayo Saka is Arsenal's golden boy | Pool/Getty Images

There's no escaping it - this season has been as bad as it has ever been as an Arsenal supporter.

The Gunners have become the laughing stock of the Premier League with their dire results and even worse performances. But amid all the doom, the gloom and the dark clouds which hover over the Emirates stadium, one boy has given hope of a faint rainbow appearing over the horizon.

Bukayo Saka has sparkled for Arsenal this season, and even when the North Londoners looked completely out of sorts and lost at sea, he remained a standout figure in the side. Of course, his good displays have often been far from enough to save the Gunners from defeat.

It's not been plain sailing for Arsenal's starlet
It's not been plain sailing for Arsenal's starlet | Pool/Getty Images

But the 19-year-old had clearly decided that enough was enough on Boxing Day, and, tired of being the bright spark on damp evenings, he made sure the night would be full of fireworks.

The England international picked up the Man of the Match award in Arsenal's 3-1 victory over Chelsea, stopping the rot and hopefully putting an end to the Gunners' misery.

Saka exemplified everything that under-fire coach Mikel Arteta demands from his team: tempo, technique, fight and a desire to leave everything on the pitch at the end of 90 minutes.

The versatile starlet drifted around the final third of the pitch, running in behind the Chelsea defence or dropping in deeper to collect and turn at a backtracking backline. His frightening pace and direct approach completely caught the Blues off guard, and he was relentless in his attempts to rip Frank Lampard's side to bits.

It was his speed and vertical trajectory that led to the awarding of the free-kick for the second goal, as the Chelsea defence saw no other alternative than to hack him to the ground as he bore down on the penalty area.

Granit Xhaka did the rest. Arteta will have told his team of starlets to go back out and kill the game in the second half, so as to snuff out any ambitions the Blues held of a comeback. Saka did exactly that, hitting a stunning third goal - although some may question just how intentional it was.

He picked up the ball on the right side of the penalty area, glanced up and looked to cross into the box. However, his delivery flew towards the far post, cannoning off the woodwork and beyond a bamboozled Edouard Mendy. It screamed of a fluke, but Saka wasn't having it.

"I saw him off his line so I thought I could chip him. [Really?] Yeah!" he said after the match.

We'll believe you this time, Bukayo.

But Saka demonstrated a maturity beyond his 19 years both on and off the field, explaining how this young core of players, including the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe, who started in Arsenal's attack, 'grew up with each other' and 'have the passion for this club.'

"We feel that we are a good team who have been unlucky with results and red cards but this is a big one for our confidence. It's been tricky, tough, but we have come out of it and we are trying our best.

"We grew up with each other, the young players all want to play and have the passion for this club. We want to make the fans happy."

Those words will be music to the ears of Arsenal supporters, who must be falling out of love extremely quickly with this misfiring group of superstars.

It's only a small step in the right direction for the Gunners, but Boxing Day's convincing win over Chelsea is a sign of their miserable run reaching an end, and the beginning of a new era, with a few homegrown starlets at the front and centre of their achievements.

And Saka is the jewel in their crown.