Monday, August 8, 2022

Arteta: Support for Saka has been overwhelming

When Bukayo Saka stepped onto the pitch at White Hart Lane on Sunday, a weird hush descended on the home fans before a few claps turned into a rousing round of applause. Slightly dumbstruck, he returned the favour.

Sure, it was a friendly game, but Sp*rs fans welcoming an Arsenal player like that is the type of thing you expect when hell freezes over.

Weirdly, it felt natural.

How can anyone not like the 19-year-old kid who squeezed into England’s squad for the Euros then smiled his way to the final while dazzling with the ball at his feet and a unicorn inflatable between his legs?

That the chapter ended with him reduced to tears and subjected to online abuse after his penalty miss sealed Italy’s triumph over England was horribly unfair. Nobody should have to experience that, certainly not a teenager.

If the outpouring of love and support in the aftermath of the final allayed most of the fears that rival supporters could use the incident against him this season, last weekend’s experience put them to bed once and for all.

Back at Arsenal, Saka will likely be involved in the season opener at Brentford and he has the backing of his manager to use this summer’s experience to continue to improve.

“I think it’s now part of him and his history as a football player,” said Mikel Arteta.

“That scar is going to be there. He’s taking a lot from that. He’s going to use it in the future for certain.”

“I think the response he had from the football world, it was overwhelming and fully deserved,” added the Spaniard.

“He is a kid that really cares for everybody, that loves what he does. When you just engage with him or you spend some time with him, he gets on you emotionally and you can see the reaction that everybody had with him.

“I’m glad that after that penalty, which wasn’t what he wanted for sure, the reaction that the world had with him was probably even more powerful.”

So, will Brentford fans applaud him tonight? “I wouldn’t be surprised at all,” said Arteta.

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Twatsloch

Sorry to hijack but as rumours about Ödegaard wanting to leave Real and Arsenal ready to negotiate I’m obviously curious to know how much credence there is to them. Anyone else?

And yeah, Saka. Wonderful player, an all round good lad and a credit to our club and his nation.

Johnny 4 Hats

Weirdly, given the outpouring of good wishes from gooners, this could be something that cements Saka to the club for the foreseeable future.

I hope and think that he’s a massive gooner at heart but often players get their heads turned as they get older. I’d love it so much if we had a Gerrard or a Lampard on our hands who decided to stay for an entire career.

I can’t think of any career gooners post the Tony Adams era. I’d love Saka to be that guy.

Teryima Adi

Most professional footballers play for the money….

Salah

Difficult time for Saka. I hope it will not affect his talent and athleticism. Racism should never have happened

Qwaliteee

Saka needs to start tonight. On the left. Pepe on the right and Auba central.

What will probably happen though is Saka benched, Auba left, Laca up front and Pepe on the right. Because Arteta is gonna Arteta.

Daveo

Come on man, Willian is obviously starting.

karl

Unfortunately there is an ugly underbelly of society that reemerged in recent years, but I fully expect Arsenal fans to drown out any dissent to Saka.

He not only showed as one of England’s best players this summer, but is our shining light in an era that has been short on excitement.

Daveo

Saka is a legend already. Everything he does and says on and off the pitch is miles ahead of his years. He and Rashford are two players kids can genuinely look at as heros both in terms of footballing ability and characters. Hopefully he retires a gooner with 1000 goals to his name.

Jarghs

Fair play to the Tottenham supporters for seeing this was something more important than the rivalry. An act of genuine class.
Soon enough I’ll get back to calling them spuds and saying their wantaway captain looks like the bastard of both Beavis and Butthead but, for now, credit where its due.

A Different George

I hope that if Rashford or Sancho appear at the Emirates they will be treated the same way. Rashford, especially, with what he has done since the beginning of the pandemic, ought to be given a hero’s welcome. (Yes, boo them unmercifully once the match starts.)

Teryima Adi

And he was applauded at the Community Stadium. Awesome

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