Well, we now know who the four are in the World Cup semi final, as Morocco stunned everyone to beat Portugal, as France managed to overcome England in the evening game.

The Morocco result is just another example of how this World Cup has continued to enthral and excite and despite the fact they have a very ‘Greece 2004’ vibe about how they seem to get their goal and dig in, you can’t help but be so happy for that footballing nation. They have overcome big gun after big gun and on Wednesday this week they’ll take on their biggest test yet in the shape of the current World Champions France.

The French got their goals through an awesome strike from Aurélien Tchouaméni that probably deserves to win any game. Then in the second half the inevitability of Olivier Giroud in a France shirt kicked in and he bagged another good headed goal after a sublime cross from Griezmann. At this point you just need to tip your hat to the French; they had less of the ball, on balance of play England were probably the better team and created more chances, but you have to stick your chances away and the French did exactly that. In contrast, England relied on two penalties to save the day and whilst Kane bags the first one, his second one was absolutely shocking. The complete Baggioing he gave that ball was embarrassing and when you need the ‘big players’ to step up, he proved his Spursy DNA by influencing the game in the wrong way.

Conversely, Bukayo Saka, take a bow son. He was by far the best player on that pitch I thought and France were even doubling up on him. Whilst he’ll no doubt be devastated to be going home now, when the dust settles he should be looking at this performance and realising that it has been a superb World Cup for him and he should be milking every plaudit that comes his way. Him and Bellingham were superb in this tournament and my hope is that when he’s had a week or 10 days off, he can return to training with The Arsenal and pick up when he left off.

Let’s bring him home.

What I found particularly ironic is all the non-Arsenal England fans moaning about how Saka was being repeatedly fouled without any protection. Welcome to our world, guys, because we see this every week in the Premier League and referees and managers just dismiss it as “he needs to learn to deal with it”. Sorry, but he shouldn’t have to; just give the fouls that are actually fouls, for Christ’s sake.

As an Englishman, the silver lining for me personally is that Saka has been superb, but also that he surely comes in to contention for that first game against West Ham. Today is the 11th December and there are 15 days until that match. If he’s given a week off that takes him to 18th December and it means he has a full week back to check in with his teammates at The Arsenal and we can see if we can get this season back up and running with a successful start.

From an Arsenal perspective it is probably the best result. Ramsdale and Saka returning now, followed by Ben White also coming in to the frame. Tomiyasu, Partey, Xhaka have all had an extra week and hopefully they are good to go. The only one who there will now be a question mark over is Saliba. But he’s not really played at all and so if France overcome Morocco – as I expect they will – he’s probably not going to play in the final. Like Martinelli, that means that in theory, from a physicality perspective, he shouldn’t really feel fatigued. He should be fresh when he returns to The Arsenal and so it is probably the only player who we can expect to be a question mark on Boxing Day. The good news, however, is that we have an array of cover there. Assuming Tomiyasu comes back and is ok, you can play him at right back and shift White in to the centre. Gabriel has been training the whole time, as has KT and with Partey and Xhaka headed home a week ago, they should be ready.

All in all, when I look at how this World Cup has gone for Arsenal – Gabriel Jesus aside (which to be fair is a massive blow) – it could have been a lot worse.

Arsenal now plan Milan on Tuesday and I’ll be really intrigued as to who gets some minutes. We know Xhaka is out there because he’s already stated he was flying out to Dubai, so I suspect he’ll play, but it will be interesting to see if we get a glimpse of Partey. If he’s been allowed 10 days off then his return date is tomorrow, I think, so I suspect he’s probably arriving today to be with the team. I had a look at the pictures of the players training on the official site, which came out yesterday, but there’s no sign of Partey or Xhaka. But I suspect they’ll be out there by now and that  means they’ll be integrated and ready to rock and roll come Saturday’s friendly at The Emirates.

So looking at what type of line up/squad we have for that game, I reckon it’s a pretty decent looking one, all things considered. I can imagine a squad that comprises of:

Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli Nketiah. Then you look at a bench which should have Turner, Zinchenko (if fit), Holding, Lokonga, Fabio Vieira, which suddenly doesn’t seem as threadbare. I thought about including ESR in there but I wonder if we won’t see him until the new year now. There is still a massive question mark over an additional striker because if Eddie goes down we’re in trouble, which is why I hope the club are making plans for a versatile player in that attack sooner rather than later. But I’m feeling pretty good about that line up; we just need to make sure that we do the business over Christmas.

That’s me done for today I think. Some more Christmas shopping needs to be done so I’ll get cracking now. Have a good one and I’ll catch you all tomorrow.