Having had a week off in the Highlands, chilling, ignoring that football is a thing (other than the occasional – and I do mean occasional – glance at my Twitter feed) I thought i’d pen some thoughts with some renewed vigour and excitement that this latest international break is done, dusted and can be consigned to history and believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to the game on Sunday against Stoke. Even though it means very little in the grand scheme of things it’ll be lovely to get back to watching The Arsenal and so I fully intend on watching tomorrow’s match with anticipation, excitement and of course a hope that we absolutely smash the Orcs tomorrow.

Last time the two teams met they got away with a few dodgy calls, caught Arsenal on a good day – or what it felt like at the time, although it has now transpired that a ‘good’ day for opponents is just an away game for The Arsenal this season – and scuffed through a 1-0 win. It feels like there is a need for some revenge tomorrow and so I am hoping that is fed through the team.

It’d be good if it’s a well-rested team but half of the players will have been away on international duty so it won’t exactly be like Arsenal have had a couple of week’s off. Some of those players have been playing for their national sides and all we need hope now is that there hasn’t been any last minute issues since Stevie Bould came to the microphones and proved that he has a voice, albeit that h clearly uses sparingly. I mean if we’re all thinking hard about the time when Wenger goes, how much must the journals that cover Arsenal be sh*tting themselves? If that’s the kind of meagre scrapping of soundbites that they will be feeding on after the Wenger era is done, then they’ll be finding life a lot less colourful. Wenger – for all of his faults (and as we know there are many) – has provided decades of juicy soundbites for them to feed off. Bouldy would probably have given one syllable answers to every question if he had a choice I reckon. It wasn’t exactly the most of entertaining conferences in the end, was it?

It’s like asking Hollywood actor Ben Stein to read to you whilst you’re trying to lift weights. It doesn’t make life any easier.

Bouldy said that everyone looks ok and that Lacazette is even back in training. He didn’t really give any indication as to whether he’d be back in the team for Sunday’s game but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t in the squad. He needs minutes. I don’t think he’ll start as we have Auba and the indication from our assistant manager was that Arsenal will go with the strongest team and not rotate with CSKA to come on Thursday, but unless Lacazette gets himself between 15 to 30 minutes tomorrow, i doubt he’ll play anything other than a classic Wenger 75th minute sub in the game in midweek. Danny Welbeck might have got himself two goals against Milan, but we’ve seen over a few year’s that he’s not prolific enough in front of goals and needs double, perhaps even treble, the amount of goals that someone like Lacazette ends in order to convert.

And CSKA are no mugs. They have got this far and have knocked out Lyon already. We’ll not be getting the same amount of chances as we did against Milan and so we need to convert those that we do. Which is why games like tomorrow take on all more the more significance because a) they give an opportunity to bed in players in prep for the real prize we’re chasing, and b) it adds to confidence that we’ll have players like Lacazette back and ready to do their part on Thursday.

We do have to find a balance though. Going hell for leather in a game like tomorrow’s isn’t exactly what we want to see and every time Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan or Koscielny wince, we’ll all be collectively holding our breathes. But we still need to see them and we still need to see them building momentum for Thursday.

It’s where a strong and decent referee (ha!) is important in games like tomorrow because the last thing we want to see is the Orcs ploughing through our players. They’re fighting for their Premier League future and son will be bang up for it, so we need a decent ref to see the extra foot left in, etc. More of a match preview and some thoughts on how the team’s will line up tomorrow.

For now though, I am happy and contented in the knowledge that the real football is back and having stared into the abyss that was the interlull, we have at least something football-wise to look forward to.

Catch you folks tomorrow.