Saka proved in Athens that the boy has turned into a man

The Night The Boy Turned Into A Man by Dan Smith

History might show that our late winner against Benfica was not just a crucial moment in our season, but also a defining moment in the career of Bukayo Saka.

If you just checked the score on Thursday, you might assume it was as simple as Aubameyang coming to our rescue, and if we were to lift the Europa League it might be easy to forget just what the 19-year-old did in midweek.

In the 88th minute most players would have just hoofed the ball back into the penalty area and hope for the best. For the teenager to instead deliver a world class cross proves he has the mentality to play at the highest level.

When comparing our academy graduates, I have always said talent wasn’t in question. You don’t get promoted from the youth team to the senior squad without having shown various coaches your quality.

What a youngster then has to prove is; do they have the personality to play for a club our size? That’s what separates those from playing for one of the big six compared to a midtable club. Can you handle the expectation of having to win every week and get the microscope on you if you don’t?

Of course you can only find out by giving these talents chances.

Who’s brave enough to demand the ball?

Who believes they can make the difference?

Who’s not afraid to take a risk and fear not getting something wrong?

That’s why Saka is starting every week and a Willock and Maitland Niles (both older) are out on loan. Reiss Nelson is two years older but is way down the pecking order and should have been also sent out on loan. Those three play it safe, play like they are happy to be involved, like they don’t quite believe they are good enough for this stage.

That’s why Saka’s second assist was a huge moment in his development.

With everything at stake, with our season on the line, with us due to lose everything, an exit which would have huge financial implications…. The teenager didn’t hide. He demanded the ball and had the composure to deliver the ball into an area where any top striker can’t miss.

Whatever Saka goes on to achieve, we might look back as that night in Athens when the boy turned into a man.

Dan Smith

READ MORE:  William Saliba makes a shocking error whilre on loan.

Tags arsenal v benfica Saka


  1. Player of the year for us ,head and shoulders above any of this teammates ,and can hold be proud of his efforts this season ,same can be said for about 90% of his colleagues though .
    Very disappointing season so far but saka as been the one shining light ,carried this team on occasions ,just hope the rest of the team picks up and follows suit for the remainder of the season .

    1. Your post says that 90% of his teammates should also be proud. Clearly you did not mean that but that is what your post actually said.

      I presume you meant” cannot” instead of “can”, which shows why accuracy in language is so important, in order not to be misunderstood.

  2. – Willock didn’t play too safe, but he couldn’t beat Partey’s reaction time, Ceballos’ vision and Smith-Rowe’s touches/ decisions

    – Maitland-Niles didn’t put in a lot of extra effort to cement his place at the RB position, probably because he envisaged himself in central midfield position

    – Nelson is also skillful, but he’s got too many competitors on the left wing and he only seems confident when facing non-EPL opponents

  3. You mean same ‘can’t’ be said for about 90% of his colleagues. 🙂
    Perhaps we should wait for his 2nd full season before anointing Saka as the new Pires/Kanu. Last season there was big talk about Willock,Niles ,Martinelli Guendouzi Saliba and Pepe.
    All of them are experiencing a struggling sophomore season.
    Remember Wengers British ‘Core’ which was going to make Arsenal Invincible again.
    Gibbs, Jenkinson, Ox, Ramsey and Wilshere . Add to those Walcot Chambers and Wellbeck.
    Only Chambers remains as an
    invisible quota statistic.
    Saka is promising no doubt and only on 30k p/w and still straining to prove himself. What happens when he gets a 5 year contract on 90k p/w salary guarantee like Martinelli with no performance clauses? Will the hunger still be there? May be, may be not.
    Crazy as it might seem but selling Saka now for 40 mill and Martinelli
    for 40 mill also might be just cold hard businesses accumen while keeping Willock Niles Nelson ESR for the quota. Azeez and Balogun can be the next Saka and Martinelli off the production line. Better odds than
    Lacazette 50 mill Pepe 70 mill and Willian 140 kp/w

    1. I think the difference with those players and saka is obvious. They had potental and need to mature or had aspect of there game missing. Saka doesnt have that, performed well in every position he has played, has maturity vison speed ability to defend. I’m yet to see what he is missing.

    2. First time I have ever seen the word “sophomore” used on here. Correctly though, in the context you meant it! However, I do wonder how many on JA will need to Google it!

  4. This kid Saka is going place, he is going to be bigger than what Cesc Fab was for Arsenal, anyone who understands the modern game will see how intelligent the youngster is, for carrying a largely nonperforming team like us is nothing short of amazing and it is for this reason I would give him the edge over both Foden and Greenwood.

  5. I hope one day I see a team similar to this:
    ………..Partey…… Xhaka
    …………. Aubameyang

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