Last night some friends we were due to have over for a slap up Christmas meal before we are all off to see our families, unfortunately got a positive test result on their lateral flow tests, which means we’ve had to cancel a weekend of fun and frivolity at our place. I mention this in the context of The Arsenal because with the period looming that a positive test result means self isolation over Christmas, I took the unpleasant step of transferring my ticket for Wednesday’s game to the guy who stands next to me in the ground. It frustrates the hell out of me that I won’t be there but I can’t risk getting on a tube and then in a pub, followed by the ground, then contracting the virus and losing out on seeing family members. The Arsenal and my mates are like a different type of family, but my actually family and seeing them is my priority after the rubbishness of last year.

So I’ll have to watch by afar and today we’ll get an update on the team news from Mikel Arteta as he holds his press conference ahead of what will be an incredibly tough game against West Ham. The big question he’ll be asked is of course about Aubameyang and my hope is that he just bats it away. What I want to hear is that he’s been disciplined, fined, missed the Southampton game, but now is back in contention. We can’t – and shouldn’t – have this dragged out any longer. The only way he shouldn’t be in the matchday squad is if he’s basically stuck two fingers up to the manager and told him that it wasn’t his fault and he shouldn’t be punished for it. I suspect it highly unlikely but when you look at the situation and how it unfolded there’s a little bit of me that hopes this was just an honest mistake. He wanted to bring him mum back to the UK, he made an error in terms of when he could return and taking a test in the UK, he turned up for training and whilst it was late that he returned and the COVID protocols had to be observed, if he admits to a mistake and gets on with life then I suspect Arteta will be happy to reintegrate him.

We can’t really afford not to reintegrate him in to the team and so from where I’m sat we should be doing just that. I’ve seen people say strip him of the captaincy, that he should be fired, etc, etc, but the practicalities of that just aren’t feasible in my opinion. We need him and we need him to get on that pitch and start scoring. He’s the type of player who when he gets one – however it comes – he’ll quickly find his goal scoring form and that’s all any of us must surely want, right?

Stripping him of the captaincy isn’t going to do anyone much good either. It’ll be humiliating for the player, it doesn’t really add any value to us, it means that he could turn on Arteta and as a voice in the dressing room it doesn’t help if one of your senior players is a dissenter. You need to try your best to keep everyone on side and providing Auba comes back and wants to draw a line under it, I say we should do just that. But we’ll obviously find out the deal with that when Mikel gets in front of the microphones.

I will also be interested to see if anyone asks him about the fact the United game has been called off against  Brentford, after a number of positive COVID cases were found, because now we literally have an identical situation to Arsenal’s in January. I’ve already said my piece here about the situation and the precedent that was set when Arsenal were told to play the game against Brentford at the start of the season, so I would be fascinated to see how many a ‘small number’ of cases are for Man United. Because as I recall there were a ‘small number of cases’ at the beginning of the season when Arsenal were forced to play versus the same opponent on the same ground.

I know he’s already been asked about it by journos at the weekend and so maybe he won’t need to repeat himself, but I really hope people start taking note her, because it is really annoying that there seems to be different rules for different teams and at different times in the season.

Anyway, like I said, probably best not to dwell on it and I’ll leave this particular situation there. The most important thing to come from the press conference will hopefully be confirmation that we have a clean bill of health from both a COVID and an injury perspective, because we need players fully fit and ready for a fight tomorrow evening.

That’s pretty much it from me for today I think. Not a lot more news coming out of Arsenal ahead of the game and we’ll get much more analysis after we hear what Mikel has said. So let’s wait with baited breath on what he has to say.

Catch you all tomorrow.