I didn’t watch the England game last night because a) I was recording the Same Old Arsenal pod with the peeps, but also b) international football is cr*p.

However, I did see that once again Bukayo Saka stole the show bagging himself a hattrick, man-of-the-match performance and demonstrating that we really do have a starboy ready to hopefully go supernova next season. Harry Kane continued to stat-pad his England career by bagging yet another penalty too, I see. I think I read somewhere that a third of his goals for England come from the penalty spot. Says a lot really, doesn’t it?

But I’m not going to talk about one of theirs when I can wax lyrical about one of ours: Declan R….. 😉

Saka is utterly brilliant, he is getting better and better and given he was able to put together a performance like this after playing 58 games this season and probably being quite knackered, I think it bodes well for us for next season. Every Wednesday we do our ‘one in, one out, one to ‘bang’ next season and although we’re only two episodes in (third one tomorrow night here), I wonder whether we’ll get anybody talking up Saka going to another level above what he’s already delivered for us in his short time in an Arsenal shirt. I hope somebody does, because I do think he will be a player with whom we’ll be talking about alongside the De Bruyne, Salah’s, Henry’s and Bergkamp’s (who signed for us back in 95 on this day, by the way. Thanks for at least that, Bruce Rioch!) if he continues this meteoric rise that he’s been on.

More of the same please B!

There was even a cheeky little Instagram post to get everyone putting two-and-two together and coming up with 200 when he responded to Declan Rice’s Instagram on an unbelievable way to end the season with a red and white heart reply from Saka. No doubt that was a cheeky little nod towards what might potentially be happening and no doubt there will be quite a bit of boiled p*ss in East London as a result, but hopefully Arsenal are going to progress that now that the internationals are done and we can see some movement in the next week.

There was a time in which I’d have just said “we’ll maybe see you in mid-August”, as was such our way when it came to any transfer, but just based on the noises and rumblings we’ve had in the last couple of weeks, it does feel like Arsenal, Arteta and Edu don’t want to mess around and have anything dragged out. With the Rice stuff I think West Ham will inevitably look to drag it out to instigate bidding wars, but if Arsenal can keep the relationship sweet then perhaps they can chivvy this along before moving to their next target.

Which we all thought would be Kai Havertz – and it may still be that, but David Ornstein has been busy again and late last night he dropped another Ornbomb about a player from Ajax called Jurrien Timber, with our opening bid of €30million apparently going in. Ajax apparently want closer to €50million but Ornstein says that there is a good feeling on both sides that a compromise can be met.

My first reaction – after I’d googled to see who on earth the young player was – was to wonder why we’d picked him specifically as a player we wanted to go for. But you only have to start reading about some of his profile to see exactly why. He is a young, versatile central defender who has played 166 times as a centre half, but crucially, he’s also played 49 times at right back. Apparently he’s a guy who is good bringing the ball out from the back and at Ajax their playing style has apparently been to have their two outer lying defenders tuck in to bring the ball out from the back more. Starting to sound a little familiar? He is apparently a guy who also travels with the ball in to the midfield to form a midfield three and at this point I think every Arsenal fan reading this is starting to see why we appear to be heavily linked. Last season it was Zinchenko doing that for us and then right at the end of the season Arteta started to experiment with Partey at right back in the absence of Saliba. Some of us – me included – thought it was just square pegs in round holes but even though the Everton game was a dead rubber, we could all see that Partey was basically doing what Zinchenko does, but on that right hand side. Now think about how we could have the flexibility with a player like this to play different ways from the start, or even change in-game to be able to switch tactics on our opponents when one way isn’t quite delivering.

And I think this is what this summer is all about for our acquisitions. I think the Rice move is about finding a player who can play as a lone six or in a duet, but I think the Havertz and Timber moves are designed to give us a level of tactical flexibility the likes of which we have ever seen. Arteta talked about his plans being in five ‘phases’ and that we were in phase three last season. Phase four, I am assuming, is tactical flexibility and his ability to change things around on a game-by-game basis, whilst competing on all fronts. I have no idea, but I’d assume that phase five goes from competing and being tactically flexible, to being dominant and winning multiple trophies. Which is a very exciting prospect indeed.

And perhaps it is because of that, as well as the fact the club appear to at least be trying to make moves quickly, that I feel a little more at ease about the moves compared to last week. This time last week when the Havertz stuff was coming out I wondered what the heck we were doing, but if we’re looking at him differently i.e. not a number nine and something else in the team, then perhaps they can unlock something in Havertz that Chelsea simply could not. That’s the hope, anyway.

We still need to get these deals over the line though before we can really start to speculate about our set up for next season. As it stands we still don’t look to be too close to any deal and given that we went quick for Martinez last season but ultimately lost him out to United, should show us all not to get too hung up on specific players, because their end destination could always end up being quite some distance from London Colney and the Emirates.

That’ll do me for today I think. Have a good’un guys and I’ll catch you all in the morrow.