I had a skin full of booze yesterday. So to wake up this morning with a fuzzy head and see that Arsenal are linked with a £34million bid for 30-year-old Kieran Trippier doesn’t help my general state of mind. I just hope this is a ‘we’ve got papers to sell’ rumour because that price and that player makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

He’s a decent player. He’d do ok at Arsenal. But he’s the wrong side of the age curve and he’s not going to get better, which is why I am hoping and suspecting that it’s a bit of clickbait from the Sun this morning. Why would we cough up that amount of money for the player? I’m even ignoring the fact he played for The Scum; it would represent little value, it wouldn’t move the needle that much compared to Bellerin, plus in two years time we’d have to look for another right back having spent £3million+ on this one.

Nope, not for me, thanks.

So hopefully that just gets laughed off, like today’s game really, which I’ll be honest I do not understand why we are playing them. I mean, I do understand that it has been scheduled for honourable and charitable purposes, but playing your oldest rivals a week before the season starts feels weird. After we saw Partey go down with an injury last weekend, there’s part of me hoping that Arteta just plays the kids today.

He won’t of course. It’s the last friendly before the big kick off so he’ll want to get minutes in to the first team squads’ legs, but I just hope that those scumming knobs in white and blue don’t approach the game in the same way that Chelski did, i.e. to smash our players and see how many they could rough up ahead of the big kick off.

So we’ll see a strong team and I wonder whether the team that starts today gives us an indication on what happens next Friday against Brentford.

My hope – as I suggested on Twitter yesterday – was that Arteta goes with a Lokonga/Xhaka partnership in the base of the midfield. When you look at the profile of our new signing, he feels very much like a Partey understudy, so to give that partnership a go today makes sense in my eyes. If Partey is going to be out for weeks then we might as well get it rolling. There’s no sense in going for a Xhaka/Elneny midfield. We know it doesn’t work, we know they get cut through like a hot knife through butter, so let’s just not bother with it, yeah?

Then, I’d try something a little different in the front four today, although again I don’t think it will happen. I’d play Pepe wide right, Smith Rowe wide left, then Willock in the middle behind Aubameyang. It offers a few solutions in my opinion:

  • It is an opportunity to see if Willock could be a goalscoring midfielder for us this season
  • It allows Willock not to be able to be caught out like he was at times in the midfield two, which he is clearly not suited for
  • It sends a message to Newcastle that unless they cough up proper cash for him, we’ll use him (just look at Maddison starting and playing well in the Community Shield yesterday)
  • It means we don’t see Aubameyang wide left, which clearly doesn’t work any more.

So for me that would at least give us something a little different to look at and that’s what I think Arteta should be considering today.

Of course this is not why I’m expecting today and I fully expect to see Laca up top, Auba wide left, with Xhaka and Elneny in the middle. Try as he might to convince us that he works on a meritocracy basis, the last year has shown us that it simply isn’t the case. He has his hierarchy and it doesn’t matter if certain players don’t work, Arteta will play them, so I’m not expecting anything else today.

Of course one surprise we could see is Saka. He’s been training all week and at 19-years-old I don’t think he’ll need too much time to get his fitness up to speed. I suspect he won’t start but if he plays 20 minutes today then perhaps he is an option for next Friday and that is a massive plus for us. And we know that Arteta loves him and will integrate him in to the first team squad as quickly as possible. Let’s just see how much he features today though.

That’s pretty much it from me today. Slightly shorter one than usual as my head hurts, but have a good one and I’ll shoot you some thoughts on the game tomorrow.

Laters peeps.