I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but my journey to and from work swings me by Wembley Park and yesterday, it was unusually busy. It was only after almost everyone got off at the national stadium that I realised that the Spuds were having a leaving party!

Apparently there were a few empty seats yesterday and whilst Pochettino named a strong squad so he go get his side in to the Europa, I was left comforted and happy by the fact that our lads had done their bit the night before, showing how it should be done with a fantastic performance of verve and confidence. Perhaps this is a lesson to all those who besmirch our consistency in the Champions League under Arsène? Sure, we all get a bit bored of playing the same teams every year – especially in the last 16 – but what the Tiny Totts have shown is that it’s not easy balancing both Champions League and Premier League competitiveness at this time of the year. By and large, Arsenal have always got it right at this stage, so some kudos to the manager and players is needed, methinks.

Of course it’s the next step that usually buggers us up. Mainly because it’s Barcelona or Bayern that we get lumbered with. Do you know what? If we’re going to get knocked out in the round of 16, wouldn’t you prefer it to be to a different team for a change?

I know I would. Which is why I’m hoping that finishing top this year will give us an opportunity to play somebody different. There’s certainly plenty of different teams we could face this year. Benfica, Porto, Sevilla, Leverkusen or even Real Madrid are an option. 

But of course we’ll end up with Bayern on Monday. You know that, right? It’s pre-ordained. Sadly. Yep, we’ll get the Bavarians and once again be cursing the round of 16, and the predictable ties it brings up. I suppose the only shining light we have this time though, is that the second leg is at home, so as long as we keep ourselves within one goal on their patch, we have home field advantage for the deciding leg.

So it’s Preston in the cup and (probably) Bayern in the Champions League, but now all attention will turn to the Premier League as the games come quite hard and fast at this time of the year. I’m looking forward to it. Perhaps that’s because of the festive season, but there’s also an element of the fact that teams we normally play who have the advantage of playing once a week and therefore whose fatigue levels are lower than ours, suddenly have to contend with the same number of games we do. It means most teams need to rotate and if they don’t, their players can look a bit ropey, or they just bring in squad players who aren’t as good. I’m hoping for the latter, but we’ll just have to wait and see. First up it’ll be the Orcs in two days time and I think this’ll be a tough one. I think it helps that the team will be riding high on confidence after smashing a hatful of goals in the last week, but I think we’ll see more of the same as we start the match, it’ll just be whether the side can capitalise on that early on. Otherwise Stoke will frustrate us all afternoon.

Arsène’s obviously still buzzing for the weekend, because he’s brought his press conference forward to today, which means he obviously wants to receive a bit of the praise a little early too. I wonder if he’ll do a Leo Di Caprio in Wolf of Wall Street and do that ‘stand up in front of people with a face like I’m a god’ look that I’ve seen so many gifs and jpegs of? Sorry, haven’t actually seen the movie, so can’t specifically reference the scene myself. But anyway, I digress…

..where was I? Oh yes, Arsène’s presser today, in which we’ll get team news and an idea on who he might pick for Saturday. With the way some of the squad players played on Tuesday night, I might actually choose to believe him when he says he hasn’t made up his mind on who starts come Saturday at 3pm, such is the positivity amongst the squad right now. I think we all have a good idea of who in what positions, but it still feels good to think that he realistically has at least 16 players who could argue the toss over a starting slot. Good. That’s what we’ve wanted for some time and by Jove, it looks like we might be getting it. But the next 25 days will give us a proper indication as to whether we are.

I think I’ll leave it there. I’m in an overly positive mood and that’s thanks to The Arsenal. Let’s just part ways for today and reconvene tomorrow with some thoughts on what Arsène’s said and how we’ll approach Stoke on Saturday.