Arsenal could not have wished for a better bookend to the 2022 calendar year after Mikel Arteta’s high-flying Gunners came away with all three points on a jaunt to the south coast against Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton at the American Express Community Stadium, with a swashbuckling 4-2 win over a credible Seagulls outfit to proved, once again, that Arsenal is the real deal in the Premier League this season.
And it was the kids who came up with the goods on the night as they have done so often across not just this season but also for the entirety of Arteta’s reign at the Emirates, with Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, and Martin Ødegaard leading from the front once more on a night where youth remained but a number with Arsenal jumping to a seven-point cushion to close out the first half of the domestic calendar.
Perhaps there was no better person to reflect on the current situation in the Premier League title race than Saka himself, who has endured spectacular highs and immense lows across 2022, but at current, is undoubtedly the face of this new Arsenal; and there could be no better champion than the Hale End Academy product.
When speaking SkySports in the aftermath of tonight’s result, the 21-year-old reflected on the club’s lead at the top of the table in the best way he knew how; with humility and focus in equal measure.
“At the start of the season, if you had asked us if we want this, we’d bite your hands off so we’re very happy. It’s a great opportunity we have and it’s a great place we’ve put ourselves in.”
“But we’re not focused on that right now, we just want to continue to focus on the next game because we know how good Newcastle have been playing. That’s our only focus right now.”
Fully focused on taking each match as it comes, Saka exudes the maturity of a footballing veteran but the excitement of every school boy or girl that has ever dreamed of winning major honors for a club so near and dear to their heart.
And during a season where Arsenal could potentially lift their long-awaited 14th league win across their illustrious history, it is perhaps fitting that one of the best young talents in world football - and a local lad - has grown into a talismanic figure that only a handful of greats before him have achieved.
Credit must, and will, be given to Arteta and the rest of this Arsenal side during what is amounting to a storied run to future success. And though there is still much to play for, and countless twists and turns left on the road, Gunners fans across the globe can wake up to 2023 knowing that this is for real and not just a dream.