Morning all. Here we are at ‘Anything but Good’ Friday. We may get a day off, but The Management’s family tradition is such that we don’t have a drink on this day, even though it’s just the two of us and the cat who will be enjoying each other’s company over this long weekend. No matter though, I dropped a skinful of Jack Daniel’s honey last night as well as half a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, so I think i’m pretty good with having a day off. I can start all over again tomorrow. I will probably need to given we’re playing Liverpool at 8pm.

The players will be training today so it will be business as usual for them and Arteta gave us an update ahead of the Liverpool match. The prognosis for Bukayo Saka doesn’t sound that good for this weekend though. Arteta confirmed that he hasn’t trained with the first team yet and so I’ll be surprised if he makes it tomorrow night. Even if he does train today I do think we should probably just leave him out for now. Let’s get him rested and see if he’s ready for the game against Slavia Prague in just under a week’s time.

The good news is that we have Nico Pepe who has been in form and so can slot in to that position on the right, so personally I’m not as concerned as, say, someone like Odegaard being out. He limped out of one of the games during the window but he played on Tuesday and got 81 minutes under his belt so the hope is that he is fit and ready to go when he returns and is assessed. Arteta couldn’t really give away much when he had his presser yesterday because so many players hadn’t returned, but he said that he hadn’t had any ‘big news’ so I’m guessing that all returned with a decent bill of health.

Emile Smith-Rowe is also a question that will need to be pondered and Mikel mentioned that he had some discomfort in his hip and that is why he hasn’t played much of late. Apparently he’s also being assessed today. On that side of the pitch there are less options. I suspect if Smith-Rowe isn’t available and Saka is also out, then we’ll have Pepe right and Auba left, with Lacazette down the middle. It’s a trio that hasn’t really worked on any consistent basis and I wouldn’t expect Auba to be getting much change out of Alexander-Arnold on our left hand side. We all know Willian isn’t the answer and Auba should be central in my opinion, but Lacazette has been in form and I think he is the one Arteta is looking at right now.

He was asked about Lacazette and a new deal in his press conference and said that the two parties would discuss in the summer. It pours water on any kind of urgency in my opinion and with a player entering the last year of his deal, if we are looking at renewing him, it’s a pretty poor way of doing it by leaving it so late. It hands Lacazette and his representatives a distinct advantage to maximise his returns and he’ll be wanting a lot of cash I suspect. That’s why I am hoping that Arteta’s dismissal of the situation until the summer is just to stop the questions until Arsenal can find a buyer for the player. That’s the right move. Laca’s trajectory is downward, he won’t get any better, we can still get a half decent fee for him, plus we have a few players like Martinelli that we should be making room for. I’ve seen plenty of people talk up Lacazette but much like yesterday when I talked about how Aubameyang is finished, the recency bias on Lacazette is swinging people’s views incorrectly. Now is the time to be pragmatic and move on from Lacazette. We need a younger upgrade.

The other talking point from yesterday came not from Arteta’s press conference, but from Lucas Torreira, who has said he wants to return to Boca to be closer to his family. This is a really sad situation because the player has just lost his mum at a young age and he is speaking from an emotion of pain. But it hasn’t worked out for him at Atletico and he probably doesn’t want to return to The Arsenal. A move to Boca would depend entirely on them though. Now they have heard that they will not exactly be rushing to our door to put down money, so it puts Arsenal in a very tricky position. If you just look at the human element of it then it might be a really good thing for him to go home and see his family and be with them, but Arsenal can’t – sadly – afford to just let a player like that leave for nothing. I hope a solution can be found because this situation of COVID-19 has ruined so many lives and thoughts and prayers have to be with the Torreira family right now.

I think I want to call it a day on that note. I hope you are well and so is your family. Hug them a little tighter and tell them you love them.

Catch you peeps tomorrow.