Arsenal talisman Bukayo Saka made a bold trophy declaration spurred on by his side extending a unique streak to start the season.
The Gunners dismantled bitter rivals Tottenham at the Emirates on Sunday. Arsenal were the form side going into the clash, and made it count when blitzing Spurs with an all-action first-half display.
Saka and fellow academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe were the stars of the show. Indeed, Saka earned our joint-highest score with a man of the match performance in our player ratings.
And what made the victory all the more impressive was the average age of Mikel Arteta’s eleven.
Per Transfermarkt, Arsenal’s starters averaged 24.7 in age. That made it the fourth youngest starting eleven fielded by any side in the Premier League this year.
Numbers one, two, three and five in that list are also held by Arsenal, indicating the faith Edu and Arteta have placed in youth after signing six players all under the age of 24 this summer.
In the post-match fallout, Saka could barely contain his joy at the victory. And in quotes carried by the Evening Standard, Saka stressed winning trophies is a realistic aim for this crop of young stars.
“We can achieve anything, no matter what age. With age comes experience but we have a lot of experience in this squad anyway which helps us.
“We have a lot of quality and enough experience to achieve a lot. We’re going to take it game by game but if we play like this we have enough quality to win trophies.
“I can’t really describe how good it feels. Starting with the atmosphere in the stadium — it was crazy! The fans gave us so much energy and, for us to repay them and win like this at the stadium, it just means everything for us.
“It’s been almost two years since we played a north London derby with the fans. And you could tell it’s been nearly two years by the way they received us and cheered us. It was a special game.
“We all wanted it. We knew how much the game meant to the fans, we knew how much the game meant to us. And of course to build winning momentum — we’ve won three games in a row — is really good for us.
“We’re getting closer as a team, getting more team spirit, so things are looking good.
“If we play like that all the time, we have a strong chance of doing well this season and winning some trophies. This is one game, we have to do it again the next week and the next week.
“We get into a lot of good situations but we need to score more goals. Yesterday, we were a lot more clinical, so we’re happy with that but we’ve got to do it consistently.”
Guardiola admits Arsenal-linked playmaker could leave
Meanwhile, Bernardo Silva is now “happier” at Manchester City after rumours of a summer exit, according to Pep Guardiola – but that doesn’t mean his future is certain.
Consequently, City boss Guardiola has praised Silva’s adaptability and confirmed the midfielder is more positive now. Even so, the prospect of an exit in future remains on the cards.
Guardiola said: “He’s so intuitive. It’s not his role as a holding midfielder but he knows exactly how to play it and how to anticipate what is going to happen, with the ball or without the ball.
“All I want is for Bernardo to be happy, here or anywhere. All I want is his happiness because he’s a guy that deserves the best.”
After praising Silva further, Guardiola concluded Silva’s future may yet remain away from the Etihad.
“If, at the end, he wants to leave and decides [to go] the only thing I can say is that the guy or the club that gets Bernardo is going to take one of the best players in the world,” added the Spaniard. “Is he happier? You cannot play in this way if you are not happy; it’s impossible.”