Morning Gooners. How you all doing? Any sore heads out there after a night of celebrating St Patrick’s Day? I’ve got a mini one, having had a few beers and then half a bottle of Malbec with a steak last night, but nothing that a little bit of milk thistle and a Berocca won’t cure.

Come tomorrow though, what I’ll need to cure what ails me will be a good performance and win against Villa and today Mikel will be up in front of the press to deliver his thoughts ahead of the game. Firstly we have to wonder what he’ll say on the team news and I wonder if he’ll give some hints that he’s going to undertake a bit of rotation tomorrow. If you’re going to do it and give minutes to the likes of Smith Rowe and Pepe, then tomorrow is probably the most likely time you do that; it will be our third game in less than a week, which means there will be some mental fatigue or potential sluggishness in the team given it is an away game at 12.30pm.

I mentioned that Mikel was angry about it in his post match press conference on Wednesday night and I do wonder what impact him moaning about it will have on the team? By being so publicly vocal about the lack of prep time and recovery time for the players, I wonder if this has the potential to get in to their heads. Kind of like a ‘tiredness begets tiredness’ type thing. I hope not. My hope is that because we have such a young squad, it can have a positive impact in terms of our recovery time and we aren’t too impeded as a result of playing a game just over 60 hours since we played our last match, because those younger muscles will be able to recover. When I was in my early 20s I remember playing football on Monday nights, Tuesday nights and then Thursday nights, before finishing off by playing on a Sunday. Now I know I am nowhere near the intensity or skill to compare myself to elite sports athletes, but I guess I’m giving this as an example mainly to reference my own recovery time. I didn’t stretch, I didn’t feel I needed to warm down, I just went again the next day and when I woke up in the morning I felt fine. Fast forward just a few years, until I got to my late 20s and then in to my early 30s and it was very different. I remember playing football at work in my late 20s and then having to warm down, as well as take it a little easier in the morning, because I had a bit of stiffness. These days if I go and play football I’d probably need an ice bath then a warm bath to relax the aching limbs!

It makes me wonder if Tomiyasu might have been held back in the Liverpool game so he can be 100% in the Villa game. I hope he’s ready soon because as much as Cedric has done a decent enough stand in job, a game like this weekend worries me if he – as a guy in his late 20s – will feel it more than the others. So if Tomi can come in to provide freshness then great. Not least because the longer it goes on, the more it turns in to one of those ‘mysterious injuries’ that Arsenal players have gotten over the years where nobody really knows what’s wrong and the player is missing for ages when it was only supposed to be a few weeks. So yeah, I have hopes to see him back so his injury doesn’t become a worrying ‘thing’, but also because I wonder about whether Cedric as an older player might look a little ropey compared to some of the other younger legs in the team.

So my point – as is my hope – is that for many of our younger players we don’t see too many worrying signs of a sluggish performance. But elite football is so much about fine margins that you don’t know if even that extra day that we might have got if the Premier League in conjunction with BT didn’t shaft us on the fixture scheduling. Could that be the difference between a defeat and a draw? Or a draw turning in to a win? We’ll know more tomorrow when the players take to the field.

In other news we’ve had four Arsenal players called up to the England squad ahead of friendlies next weekend. Congratulations to Saka, Smith Rowe, White and Ramsdale, but honestly I couldn’t give a monkey’s about friendlies, so whilst I’m pleased for them because it will make them happy, I won’t be watching either of the games they might feature in and I’m really not that fussed if they start or not. In fact, let’s have them get token minutes so we can protect them for Arsenal’s run in for the coming months, because it’s a bloody hard run in that we’ve got.

That’s pretty much it from me for today I think. More tomorrow as we digest what Mikel has to say ahead of a really tough game away to an in-form Villa side.

Catch you all tomorrow.