Bukayo Saka is really looking forward to Sunday’s north London derby, in no small part due to the fantastic atmosphere Gooners have created at Emirates Stadium already this season.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “It’s a massive advantage [to play at home]. Personally, the feeling I have every time I play at the Emirates is that we’re going to win and the people are behind us. The support that the fans give us, not allowing us to lose, gives us that extra confidence boost.
“Since last year, all the players and everyone around the club has realised what the fans have been doing at the Emirates and they’ve created a really beautiful atmosphere.
“I’m forever grateful for the love and support that we receive. I really appreciate it every single time I put the shirt on.”
Asked about his recent battles on the right wing, Saka explained how he’s embracing the different types of challenges that opponents are presenting him with.
“It’s becoming a real challenge and I’m enjoying it,” he said. “There are some top left-backs in the league and every game you play against different types of players. Some are faster, some are more strong and aggressive. In some games, it’s two players I have to play against. It’s nice to know every game is a different challenge.
“Beating your man is one thing but it’s about the end product after that I’m really focused on.”
End product is exactly what Saka provides time and time again, but he puts his goalscoring exploits down to the increasing chemistry within the team as a whole.
“Football isn’t just about individuals,” he said. “You need your teammates, so as I’m progressing I feel like my teammates are too. We’re all increasing our numbers, year by year, it’s not just me. It’s nice to see that everyone can score and create.
“Everyone is so fluid and creative. You’re on the pitch and have the freedom to attack so it’s really fun.
“The understanding is becoming better and better because we’ve played together for longer. For example, when I play with Martin, I’ve been playing with him for three years now so we have a really good understanding. Of course, Ben White as well behind me, I feel like me and him have a good connection and understand each other, so the chemistry is really good.”
Speaking of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo was delighted to learn of Friday’s news that our captain has extended his contract with the club.
“He’s really important, not just as a player, as a leader as well,” he said. “He leads in a different way but I love it and respect it. We all know he’s got unbelievable quality, creating goals and scoring goals and being the captain that we all love.
“I don’t mind being stuck with him! I’m happy for him and he deserves the new contract.”
Now one of our key players, it’s amazing to see how far Bukayo has come in such a short space of time. Looking back at coming through the ranks, our star boy only had one thing in mind.
“I just wanted to play for Arsenal,” he said. “That’s all that was on my mind. Once I got the chance, it was about staying in the team and that’s what I’ve tried.
“You need people around you that trust you, especially as a young player. You can have a good or bad game but when you have coaches who are willing to trust you and put you in again, it gives you a lot of confidence. I’ve had managers that have given me so much trust and you can see it in the amount of games I’ve played.
"That helped me so much to develop because I made a lot of mistakes but now I don’t make the same ones because I’ve learned from them. You can see I’m playing as a much more mature player than I was when I was 17 or 18.
“I’ve developed in every aspect, 1v1s, finishing, movements, combinations with my teammates and my understanding of the game has gone to another level. I just want to keep practicing and improving.”