Tomorrow, the winger for Arsenal turns 21. The day before, the Gunners will try to stay on top of the Premier League by beating old rivals Manchester United.
And yet, he, his team, and their fans have already had a lot to cheer about. Five victories in a row. Saka hasn’t scored a goal yet, but he’s done his part and is a key member of a young, strong team. Arsenal has only started a season with six wins once before, and that was in 1947, when they went on to win the league.
It’s too early to talk about trying to win the title, but Saka says that the next goal under manager Mikel Arteta is to try to win a trophy. He said, “That’s my goal.” “The next step for us is to try to win some trophies for the club.”
How things have changed at Arsenal since he broke through as a 17-year-old under Unai Emery, when the club was still trying to find itself after Arsene Wenger. “It was hard. It was the same when we lost our first three games last season, he says.
He is too young to remember when Arsenal and United were at their best. When Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira fought in the Highbury tunnel, he was only three years old. When Sylvain Wiltord won the title at Old Trafford, he was only eight months old.
But Saka knows what it means because he has been at Arsenal since he was seven years old. He has watched the videos. He says, “It’s a unique rivalry.” “I’ve seen the games before, when there were big hits and fights.”
Saka tells his teammates in the documentary All Or Nothing: Arsenal how much his fans love him and how he was seen in a grocery store even though he was wearing a hoodie and a mask.
After the Euro 2020 final, when Saka missed a penalty and got racial slurs, he again received a lot of love and support. He says, “The whole team and the whole country came together.”
Teddy, a young fan who is in the movie “All or Nothing,” sent him his pocket money, and Saka invited him to watch Arsenal play Fulham at home. “For the kid to do that for me, it shows how much he cares about me.
“The least I could do is something nice for him.” I remember being that kid who looked up to adults, but I never gave anyone my pocket money!’
After a great season, Saka became the first Arsenal player since Thierry Henry to win player of the year twice in a row. He is expected to sign a new contract at the Emirates, where he “really feels loved.”
Who knows, maybe one day he’ll have a statue like Henry outside Arsenal’s stadium. Does he want to be able to do that?
“Not many people can say they are an Arsenal icon or have a statue outside the stadium, so the answer to your question is definitely yes.”
Tomorrow, he will have a big party with his family and friends. He says, “Nothing special.” But there is one thing that will make the day even better: “A win over United would be the perfect gift.”