Didn’t blog yesterday, on account of a bit of a massive hangover caused by a lovely family and friends party on Saturday. But what I did do was fall asleep during the Belgium v Morocco game, only to wake up as the match ticked in to injury time and realise that I’d missed most of another really surprising World Cup shock result. The Belgians didn’t deserve anything from the Canada game and ended up with all three points and yesterday afternoon they certainly didn’t deserve anything from the match against the Moroccans. And if the Croatian’s play like they played yesterday against the Canadians, then there will also only be one winner and it’ll mean one of the more favoured teams is going home early this time.

I think there might be a few of those by the time we get to the end of this week. As it stands now it looks like Denmark might be going home, but they play Australia and if they win that then they’ll go through, so it’s still in their ands. Germany have to beat Costa Rica, who delivered their own shock by beating the Japanese and to me that group looks like it’ll end up being one in which the Japanese go home early. Spain still need to win it to secure top spot and Germany will need to turn over a Costa Rica side who, whilst they did surprise a few by beating Japan, shouldn’t really have enough for the Germans in my opinion.

Today’s instalment has a little Arsenal flavour to it, as Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland take on the Gabby’s of Brazil. I don’t think we’ll see Gabriel Martinelli from the start in that game, but we might see Gabriel Jesus, given that Neymar is injured. Neymar was playing more centrally behind Richarlison though, so the talk is that Paqueta and Casemiro will get the nod behind Richarlison. We all know its the wrong call but hey, that’s Tite’s problem.

The Arsenal news still remains thin on the ground unfortunately. I suspect the players that aren’t at the World Cup will be making their way to Dubai soon, as we line up on 8th December in the Dubai Super Cup on Thursday next week. That means at some stage this week they’ll make their way, as the ‘second pre season’ kicks in.

It does feel a little odd to be talking about a pre season all over again though, given that the season is already under way. It almost feels like that fantastic start to the season we had has just been erased from the records. That’s kind of harsh on us because we played so well, but it does serve to highlight that it will be important to get all of the preparation for that Boxing Day game at home to West Ham sorted. Arteta will be keen to get across that ‘reset’ mindset of his players and I think it’s the right thing to do, but things like that Dubai Super Cup will also make it feel like we’re starting all over again. I guess I always knew there would be friendlies on during the World Cup, but just thinking about one of those pre season tournaments has just reminded me that it’ll all feel like it’s starting again right on Christmas.

I just hope the players have the same mentality and are prepared like we were for the Palace game on opening day one. That helped us to build momentum by picking up that result and then going on to do the business in those first three games before they had an international break. It feels like we need to go and do the same – build that initial momentum – over the Christmas period and with the games coming so thick and fast, there won’t be much time in between matches. That will either be a good thing because a loss can be easily rectified by a bounce back win, but it is also the Christmas period where ruts can set in if you lose back-to-back games. Last season we smashed Norwich 5-o on Boxing Day then had our Wolves home match cancelled because of COVID. The season before that we beat Chelsea at home as well as Brighton away, as Mikel Arteta’s team started to put together a run which would help us come back from a pretty precarious period under the coach. The season before that we drew with Bournemouth away and lost to Chelsea away as Arteta had just taken charge, then the season before that we drew away to Brighton and lost away at Liverpool 5-1. So we have a bit of a mixed bag of results over the years in the Christmas period and this year we can’t really afford any stuttering of points if we do want to compete with Man City. We know they will most likely win their games, so we have to make sure we do the business over West Ham, but then also against Brighton, who we seem to always play over Christmas, as the recent years examples I’ve just given, shows.

The difference this year – one would hope – is that it is being started like the start of a Premier League season, so there will be plenty of players who should go in to the festive period relatively fresh. The Christmas schedule is normally one where teams have to grind out results, but this year will feel like one where teams are ‘going for it’ to get their seasons back up and running. For many the reset will be good, for others it will be a slip up waiting to happen. Hopefully Arteta has his team well enough prepared for us to pick up where we left off.

Right, I’m going to call it a day I think, as I’ve got a load of stuff on this afternoon and need to get cracking with work. See you all tomorrow.