Morning Gooners, how we all doing? Feeling good? Did you watch our Starboy Saka shine for England last night? I certainly did!

What a talent we have on our hands, eh? The goal was a well worked one and Foden’s ball in to Saka to secure England’s third was brilliant, but his flick over Mendy was also pretty special. To be able to see in your peripheral vision that the ‘keeper is coming out like that and to just deftly lift the ball up in the air like he did, I mean, wowsers. That is impressive.

I don’t think I go on about Saka enough. When I do match reviews for The Arsenal on here I often talk about certain players, one’s that get on the scoresheet, or who have a particularly good game, but I can’t remember the last time I truly waxed lyrical about our Little Chilli. He is a proud product of that Hale End academy and I’m sure the club are the proudest of all having helped to guide his career in the direction it has, but he is such a special talent and we are lucky that he grew up within our walls.

I think the reason I haven’t gone to town on him in terms of fanboying, is that I am reluctant to do that with any player too much, because they all leave eventually and in the last decade or so the really good ones have tended to leave either whilst at their best, or at least about to become their best. So I’ve tried to temper my emotional connection to players. It is easy with players who come from overseas or from different parts of the country; they perhaps didn’t grow up supporting Arsenal, or if they did they did it from afar so perhaps don’t have as closer connection to the club. Take Saliba, for example, who has been pictured in an Arsenal shirt and says he supported Arsenal as a kid. But as soon as these lads get to 17-18 they are starting to forge a footballing career and I think often these things get watered down somewhat. I can only speak for myself personally, but I don’t think my true obsession with The Arsenal started until I got to 18 and started to go to games on my own, or watching with mates and finding friendship groups specifically because they were Arsenal fans.

What I’m trying to say here is that it is easier for me to square off when we eventually lose players. I am not happy about it and with Saliba if he doesn’t sign a new deal and went off to PSG or Real Madrid then it would hurt, but even a small part of my brain would be able to say “look, he wants to further his career, he’s not a local lad, so maybe try to understand that, Chris”. But with Saka, he IS a local lad, he has been in the academy since he was a tiny kid, he really DOES have that connection to the club – more than nearly all the others in the squad along with ESR, that getting too emotionally invested in him would only be more pain if/when he eventually departed the club.

But I need to live more in the ‘now’. I need to appreciate the special talent that plays in an Arsenal and England shirt. I need to recognise that he is one reason why right now we should continue to be Arsenal fans. He is delivering on the biggest global football stage and from a confidence point of view the more performances he delivers like he did yesterday, providing he doesn’t get taken out in this tournament or breaks down, the better he’ll be and he’ll keep growing in to the star we all see each week. I just cross everything he stays fit. There was a point yesterday where he went down and stayed down for about 30 seconds and my immediate response was “oh no….not another one!” after the Gabriel Jesus injury. But thankfully he got up and carried on. He’s a robust player and can take the kicks he gets – and he gets a lot of kicks – and my hope is that he continues to be that robust throughout his career. Jack Wilshere eventually broke down after one too many horrible fouls on him and there should be some responsibility on referees to protect attacking players like him, Neymar, Grealish, Gabriel Jesus, etc. But all too often that doesn’t come and when good players are not given the protection they need, opposition players that their opportunity to skirt the line of what is too much and what is within an acceptable level of physicality.

But back to his overall play, I think Saka was great yesterday. He can receive the ball to feet and play those quick interchanges of passes with his full back, centre midfielder, or central attacker. He can have balls played in over the top and a couple of times yesterday he was in behind his defender. He is a threat for his opposite on the other side of the pitch and he is somebody who will always provide an outlet. Marcus Rashford was superb against Wales and bagged two goals from wide right, but there is a reason that Southgate chose Saka ahead of him yesterday: he’s a better all-round footballer. At 21 years of age. Just let that sink in. Jude Bellingham may have stole the show with his lung-busting runs and superb performance yesterday, but Saka has been doing it in an England shirt for a few years. Let’s also not forget he was asked to take the penalty in the Euro’s which England ultimately lost out to Italy on. This is a guy with nerves of steel to do that in the first place, but then to come back from it and not let it define him as he has done, well, that takes some doing.

So this blog today is all about that Saka appreciation. I could talk about France and how they were excellent and will pose England a huge threat. I could talk about the England game as a whole. But this blog today is all about ‘B’, it is all about our Starboy who, by the sounds of it, is a really lovely person as well, despite all that has come before him in terms of the money, the acclaim, the fame, etc. Go on Bukayo, keep doing what you are doing and keep being the man you are.

I think it’s also important to send thoughts out to Raheem Sterling, whose house was burgled with partner and kids in, so understandably he wants to go home to be with them. Thoughts go out to him.

Catch up with you guys tomorrow.