Morning all. It’s my final day off of the Christmas period today, having booked it off to ensure I have a day of putting my world back in order after all of the parties, festivities and other such malarkey. I did obviously make time for Arsenal but, if i’m honest with you, it did kind of put a slight downer on my New Year’s Eve preparations. It was a turgid game, with an Arsenal team that couldn’t string together more than five passes but looked to have ground out a win, when Mike Dean stepped in and did his Mike Deanly thing.

Last season I think he made two or three clangers in a row in other football matches not involving Arsenal and here we are talking about that little prick once again. When are the people in the proper positions of power going to just send the single worst referee I have ever seen – and I think I include Antony Taylor in that thinking as well – out to pasture? It really is quite some joke that an inept individual with a massive ego and the desire to always make himself the centre of attention still gets to wield the whistle. But that’s the refereeing body for you: unanswerable to anyone and quite frankly as useful as a chocolate teapot.

But let’s not pretend that Arsenal really deserved much themselves with that performance. No Ozil and Iwobi in replacement shows you just how budget our team can be when we start to strip it of the real quality in the side. I’m really starting to lose faith that Iqwobi will ever be good enough you know. I know time is still on his side, but he is offering little to nothing these days, which is being made worse by Arsene Wenger because Iwobi is another ‘project’ for him to keep playing in to form. And it’s another example of how Arsene works with his hierarchies. Lucas Perez last season was never given a chance, was dumped regardless of whether he played well, scored, assisted, etc, etc. Yet Iwobi can offer little more than balls out of play and head down dribbling and still find himself on the first XI team sheet. It really is quite startling.

But perhaps it was fitting that 2017 ended with more of the same that we’d had. The FA Cup win and victory over City and Chelski in that competition were one of very few highs and from an Arsenal perspective 2017 can be seen as a pretty crap year in general. The cup win simply masks the deficiencies in the team and the lack of any real structure, team style or drive, or so it seems. This season started off pretty much like last season finished and 2017 finished pretty poorly too.

And to top that all off we play Chelski tomorrow with a whole host of players that probably aren’t going to make it for the game. Happy effin days. Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Ozil and Giroud might all feasibly be missing and with Arsene speaking earlier today about there being a 30% chance for Koscielny, I dread to think what Chelski are going to do to us on our own patch. An Arsenal team who has struggled for form all season, who have already picked up five defeats, who are missing a load of key players, with a manager who doesn’t know his best team and keeps trying to play out of form players back in to form? It sounds like it could be a murdering on the cards. And that’s hardly how we want 2018 to start now, is it?

It doesn’t feel very positive around the club at the moment, does it? When people talk to me about Arsenal these days I just tend to shrug and my heart sinks a little, sometimes even moving towards the stock “let’s talk about something else”, because I hear stories about players not liking each other, I see performances like the West Brom one too often, then I start to just feel despondent every time I think about where we are as a club. We know that change should be coming at least in 18 months time, but there’s becoming even more of a movement amongst people I speak to about hoping that we’ll see it in the summer. I personally don’t believe it. The flame of belief that I held Arsene as a man of principles who when he thought he was going backwards would move on has long since been extinguished, being replaced by the understanding now that’s he’s a proud man too blinded by his own ambitions to see that there is a staleness about Arsenal that is now seeping through in to fan apathy. Which is why I want to “talk about something else” when I chat to people who know I’m an Arsenal fan. Because I know the story is the same, the conversations are the same, the outcomes are also the same.

Match preview tomorrow folks.