Happy Saturday you wonderful people. It might be an Arsenal-less one, but hopefully you can find enough enjoyable other things in your life to have a good one nonetheless.

The good news from an Arsenal perspective today is that Gabriel – the big one at centre half – confirmed that he’s signed a new deal and that extends his current deal by a few years, with most of the press speculating that the extension is until 2027.

I have to say I’m delighted with this news. There have been a few people this season who have questioned him, there are some worries about occasional lapses of judgement at the back, but I think he’s been superb for us ever since he signed. He is strong, physical, powerful and alongside Saliba has formed a formidable partnership in the heart of our back line this season. He is a fantastic defender and when you look at the numbers he posts, you can see that he’s a guy who delivers for Arteta and Arsenal and I can see why it is no surprise that he is so regularly featured in our team under the manager.

Take the Leeds game for example. I think people get too hung up on specific moments and in that game, into injury time, of course he was silly and naive and could have cost us three points with his actions, but everyone seems to have forgotten that for nearly all of that game he was our best defender, made a ton of blocks and was generally outstanding. Not me though. I appreciated – and continue to appreciate – what he brings to the team and I am hopeful he can continue to do what he does for The Arsenal for many years to come.

I think the problem we have – ‘problem’ being the loosest sense of the word – is that Saliba has arrived and suddenly people are thinking that we need an upgrade to play alongside Saliba. But Arteta loves a lefty in that position and Saliba is a once-in-a-generation talent that has arrived, so finding another one like that who is left footed to ‘upgrade’ on Gabriel isn’t easy at all. In fact, I’d say it’s probably nigh-on impossible, so why can’t we just appreciate the existing partnership between the two players? They are both still so young and Gabriel at 24 is going to get better. His ball distribution may not be as good as Saliba, but it is still bloody good and I can think of a number of times in which we’ve seen him play out from the back and deliver excellent passes to our midfielders or attackers.

He also chips in with goals, as evidenced last season, when he played his part in our goal tally and was certainly a threat from corners. I’ve already spoken this week about how getting goals from across the pitch is so vital and he has already shown that he’s a big part of supporting the team in that regard.

So all-in-all, I think this deal is great news for the club and another good story for this season.

Of course, when a signing like this just happens, the next thing that we as fans do is say “whose next?” and I think that’s what my timeline was awash with straight after the Gabriel announcement by the club. That’s because we do still need to tie down some names in this team, like Saliba, Saka and Martinelli. If all three players sign their paperwork in the coming weeks and months, it’ll be massive for us. We all talk about how there has been something brewing at Arsenal; there’s something good still evolving at the club, but they need to tie down those players who are an integral part of that growth. I see Gabriel as one of those players, but Saliba, Martinelli and Saka are also very important cogs and if they can get signed up, then you’re looking at an obvious sign that the project is believed in by those players and we’ve got something good going on for a number of years.

Sign Da Tings.

Let’s hope they do. And soon. 

Back to what’s on the immediate horizon – Southampton – and yesterday Arteta did his pre match press conference as usual. He didn’t give anything away and wouldn’t confirm if Zinchenko is fit enough to make the squad tomorrow. He did say he is close but wouldn’t divulge whether he would make the trip. I wonder if he might be fit enough for a place on the bench tomorrow and that’s good news. He will have to make a call on Tomiyasu or Tierney tomorrow, but having Zinchenko as an option is good to see so hopefully he starts his recovery on the south coast.

There were a few boring lines of conversation like Ronaldo that he was asked, but I’m not bothering to go over them, because it’s a little tedious. However I thought it was interesting when he was asked why we have struggled against Southampton in the past and he said he wasn’t sure, but then talked about how we haven’t had enough training sessions to be able to set up for them and the way they play. I thought it was interesting because as a layman I look at the way we play and I see how we are set up. I see how we play and I see a consistency there and I don’t think that we change our style too much for the opponent. We clearly must do though, because otherwise why would Arteta say what he said? We probably don’t do too much to change; it’s not as if we flip our formation and style at all, but there must be more tactical subtleties that Arteta and his coaching staff work on and that’s pleasing to note. One of the most frustrating things about Wenger was that he didn’t spend any time looking at his opponent because he focused more on his own team. In the beginning that worked a great but when things started to turn sour at the end, it became a bit of a stick to beat him with. Then when we went completely the other way with Emery we saw a guy who spent too much time worried about the opponent and not enough on his own teams style. He flip-flopped too much and we were a mess. So the idea that we are trying to find a tactical blend between our games and the way the opponent plays, is really good for a fan like me to hear.

There wasn’t really a lot else from the presser worth talking too much about, so I’ll leave it there and catch you all tomorrow for a match preview. Have a good one and I’ll see you then.

Laters peeps.