Mikel Arteta said his Arsenal team were “alive” following their victory at Wolves while Bukayo Saka celebrated an unforgettable week – which included a new contract and his first Premier League goal.
The 18-year-old has caught the eye with his performances this season and was rewarded with a fresh contract on Wednesday before being handed another league start for the 2-0 win at Wolves on Saturday.
He repaid both shows of faith with a wonderful goal to give Arsenal the lead just before the break, thundering a volley home for his first Premier League goal.
It capped off a wonderful few days for the teenager, who told Sky Sports: “It’s been a week that I’ll remember for my whole life.
“It’s been a great week not just for me, but the Arsenal fans. You can see what the manager is building and we’re really delighted with the results we’re getting and that I can tie down my future here.
“I’m 18 and it’s been a dream to play for this club. I came up from the academy this season so I feel like I have to take it game by game. Wherever the boss puts me, I have to try and give my best. I’m so grateful to be here.”
⚽️ Bukayo Saka has scored his 1st PL goal. At 18 years & 303 days, only 6 players have scored in PL at a younger age for @Arsenal
Nicolas Anelka pic.twitter.com/48YcIusBYb
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) July 4, 2020
His goal set Arsenal up for a 2-0 victory at Molineux – their second successive away Premier League victory and fourth consecutive victory in all competitions.
Saka added: “It’s a very big result. We know how good Wolves are, we knew how tough it was going to be out here. We fought for every ball, we fought for every duel and we’re delighted to get the win. We just want to keep building some momentum.
“I know KT [Kieran Tierney], I know where he likes to cross it… I anticipated that the ball was going to come to the edge of the box so I made sure I was there. When I got the ball, I knew at the far post was where the gaps were going to be and I just tried to guide it there. Luckily, it was a good finish and it went in.
“We fought for each other together and I feel like that’s why we got it over the line today. The subs that came on helped us so much and they gave us a boost. It feels like we’re more together.”
Redknapp: Saka a joy to watch
Jamie Redknapp was joined by Ashley Cole in the Sky Sports studio to watch the game, and praised both Saka and Arsenal.
Redknapp said: “I’m so pleased for Saka. He’s a joy to watch and with a new contract, what a week for him. It’s not conventionally the best volley we’ll ever see, but it’s a really good one. It works for him.
“It’s probably one of the biggest wins since we restarted the Premier League. It was a good performance and to a certain extent, not the sort of one we associate with Arsenal; they were dogged defensively and they have that bit of quality when [Alexandre] Lacazette comes on.”
Former Arsenal defender Cole added: “Watching Saka’s interview, he feels like Arsenal is his home and he’s a young kid. I think the group they’ve got around him with extra young players is making him feel very welcome and at home so I bet Arsenal fans are buzzing that he’s signed and he definitely looks like one for the future.”
Arteta: This team is alive
The victory puts Arsenal right back into contention for a European spot – currently in seventh and three points behind Wolves – and Mikel Arteta was delighted with the fight his side showed on Saturday.
“I am delighted with the performance, with the shift the players put in, with the energy that we played, the fight for every single ball from the first minute to the last minute from every player that touched that grass. That’s what we’re demanding,” he told Sky Sports.
“There were a few moments that were good in play, the goals that we scored were really good as well. We have moments that we have to improve, how we manage the games and how we dictate the games better, mostly in the second half but we will get there.
“At least the spirit and how everybody approaches the game, they go full gas with every ball.
“It [the result] gives us a lift, it gives us momentum and it’s four wins in a row, which is not easy to do with all the situations and circumstances we have had. We will try to recover to go again against Leicester and try to win a game, that’s all we can do.
Arsenal vs Leicester
July 7, 2020, 8:00pm
“This team is alive and it’s going to be alive when they enjoy to suffer together and if they are able to do that, good things will come up.”
Speaking about Saka, he added: “It was a difficult first half in that position I asked him to play, he struggled a little bit. But he found the right moment and that’s what he can do. Every time he’s in the box, he’s a very dangerous player and he got rewarded with a goal, he didn’t put his head down, he kept working and helped the team to win the points.”
Nuno: League position doesn’t change us
For Wolves, it was their first defeat in eight Premier League games and their only loss since the restart, putting a dent in their charge for a top-four finish.
But manager Nuno Espirito Santo says league position coupled with other results from the teams around them will not change the way they are approaching the final few games of the season.
Sheff Utd vs Wolves
July 8, 2020, 5:30pm
“It was a balanced first half. I think both teams were organised, good possession, not too many chances with the exception of one moment where we lose a little bit of our organisation and focus and Arsenal scored,” he told Sky Sports.
“In the second half, I think we started better. We started pressing and really put Arsenal deep on the pitch, creating chances or a moment we could go for the draw, but we knew as the game goes by, it becomes dangerous in the counter-attack and Arsenal have good players. It was not the best of games but the work was there so let’s go for the next one.
“It doesn’t change the way we see things. Other results and the table is not what guides us, what guides us is how we did things today and we wanted to do things that we would not be able to do. Credit to Arsenal but we must improve our circulation much faster and don’t focus on anything else, only focus about how we want to do things and prepare for the next challenge.”