Happy Friday folks. And see you in hell international break, which I don’ think we have for about four months now, so thank heavens for that.

Of course come 5pm on Saturday evening I could wish we were still on the international break, but whilst the future of the game at home to Southampton is still unscripted, I guess optimism needs to be the Soup de jour for all of us right now.

Unai Emery went in front of the press yesterday afternoon and gave us an update on the team news, Xhaka, Pochettino and whether he’s feeling any pressure from up high. Even if he was I wouldn’t expect him to say anything, so the fact his response to his question was “Really I am not taking my time to respond in myself for those issues. I am with a focus on preparing the matches and it is very important how we can improve because we have a lot of work to do. That is really my only focus”. Pretty much standard fair I would wager, but let’s be realistic here, the worry from all of us right now is that he isn’t feeling the pressure, which is much worse a thought than anything else. We have been poor all season, we are in the middle of an ‘easy’ run in and we’re sh*tting the bed, with the guy in charge of the team telling us after each performance that the players carried out his instructions. That’s hardly going to fill you with confidence and the thought that Raul, Vinay and Edu haven’t knocked on the door and said “shape up, or ship out, son” is a concern.

But there’s nothing we can do about it right now so we just have to get behind the team for Saturday and hope to see some kind of performance. What would be nice is a smashing and in my view the only way that happens is if he plays the best players in the best positions and, whether you like him or not, I think Xhaka is one of our better players and needs to be re-integrated back into the first team. That could be a possibility this weekend with Unai admitting that he is ‘closer’ to playing for the first team again. Let’s not beat around the bush here – Xhaka is perfectly match fit and I think should be in the matchday squad. His distribution from deep is better than anybody else in the team and if you put him alongside Torreira in the base of our midfield, then you’re going to have a good combo with which to build from against the Saints. Although we know that won’t happen because Guendouzi is never dropped regardless of his performances, but i’ll do a bit of a team breakdown and line up guestimations in tomorrow’s blog, I think.

The important thing is that the mentality is right and once again, that’s with Unai, because this team simply must win. Even a draw tomorrow should see him fall on his sword in my opinion. He sort of touched on ‘winning and winning well’ yesterday and I’m at least happy that he’s recognising the football is dire. There needs to be some kind of marker laid down to give us all belief he can turn it around. A scrappy 1-0 win will have us happy at the end of play on Saturday, but it won’t really convince anybody that we’re going back to the days of silky and sexy football, will it?

Neither will an isolated 6-0 win to be fair; it has to happen over a number of games, but it has to start somewhere, which is why I hope it starts this weekend.

What does need to happen is that Emery will need to properly understand Southampton’s set up. Hassenhuttl has already given his indication of how he is going to line his side up – a bit of a smash and grab and sit on a lead, so what we don’t need is an Arsenal team ill prepared for a fast, high press start. Again, that’s on the manager to prepare the players properly for and so we wait eagerly for the news of the line up and then those first 15 minutes tomorrow at 3pm.

Until then, I shall bid you all adieu, and catch thee in the morrow.