Morning gooners,  how we feeling today, eh? Are we feeling good? Chipper? Looking forward to the festive period?

Mine starts today and I’m off work until 3rd January, so the probability of my usual earlier morning chuntering on is likely to be replaced by a slightly belated service. Especially after I start tucking in to the rum from 4pm every afternoon. But I’ll try to do as much as possible over the Christmas period; depending of course on how much news we actually get.

If we follow the usual pattern and assume business is returning to normal, then it’ll not be for another couple of days – Friday – in which we’ll hear from Mikel Arteta ahead of the home game against West Ham on Boxing Day. It’ll be good to get that update and I’ll be interested to see  who he says is available from the international players. Particularly after there was a bunch of League Cup games yesterday. In Leicester’s game Amartey was back having played for Ghana, but we could have kind of guessed that would happen because Partey played for us at the weekend. Tielemans got minutes too, although Belgium went out in the group stages so that was always going to happen. Trippier, Wilson and Bruno Guimaraes all played for Newcastle in their 1-0 win against Bournemouth and given that Bournemouth were a fellow Premier League side, Eddie Howe clearly felt he needed to roll out some of his big guns. Again, from an Arsenal perspective that gives me  hope for Saka and Martinelli, given their national teammates have already been featured.

And on that front, let’s have a little jig of glee for the potential that Gabriel Martinelli is supposedly on the verge of signing a new long term deal with the club. Most of the reports have been coming from the Brazilian press and so nothing looks close to being confirmed by the club or player, but if these reports are true then it is great news for us.

To be fair to Martinelli he’s been pretty consistent with his comments about wanting to stay at the club. He’s supposedly on £70,000 per week and whilst that is not a massive wage to be on, it is still a fairly decent wage, but probably more reflective of a squad or rotation player. This time last year it was he and Emile Smith Rowe sharing minutes on that flank,  but Martinelli has kicked on to the next level in ESR’s absence through injury, continuing to add goals and be a general menace to opposing defenders. The rumours of a hike up to £200,000 seem steep at first when I read it, but when you think about his impact and role in the team, it kind of actually makes sense. This guy may not have got in to the first team at the World Cup for Brazil, but he showed enough in the one game he started to have Brazilians recognising his quality and if the online chatter is accurate in real life in Brail, the player himself clearly ‘arrived’ in the hearts and minds of the Brazilian people.

Now, if that’s happening in Brazil, it’s happening elsewhere too and the rumours of some of the big European clubs should not be a surprise to anyone. He was supposedly ‘watched’ by Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan and Chelsea. With that much interest from the big clubs it was always going to be important for Arsenal to put together a package which is good for Martinelli’s people, but also good for Arsenal too. We can’t have the kind of mega deal that Ozil or Auba were on, but £200k-per-week feels about right for a starting attacking player in the Premier League. Well, a starting player playing for one of the big six teams and if Martinelli continues to perform and deliver like he has done already this season, then it will more than certainly feel like valued earned on all sides.

The big question though now is about Saka too. Gabby Jesus has just recently arrived, Gabriel Magalhaes signed a new  deal recently, we’ve got players signing up to be part of this ‘project’, but the main man himself – Starboy – still hasn’t put pen to paper. I suspect they are just biding their time, or at least I hope that is the case, but if Martinelli’s contract is soon confirmed, it would be good to see Saka get signed up too. It will show a great level of belief in this current ‘project’ and make the connection continue to grow stronger as we see some of those  players we have backed thus far, committing themselves to the club.

I wonder if it also helps the ripple effect of players like Saliba too. For every player that commits to this cause, it is another confirmation of the belief that the club and manager has in this group. As Arsenal fans we’ve been collectively saying “it feels like there is something growing here” for quite some time. Having these players’ contracts all getting extended is validation that the club feels it too, but also so do the players.

I suspect Arteta will  be asked about it at his press conference  on Friday, but I doubt we’ll get anything out of him, unless the club announce the contract within the next 48 hours. If that doesn’t happen, good luck being a journo trying to extract the proverbial blood from the stone that is a scoop or bit of news that isn’t already public domain from Arteta.

That’s pretty much all there is going on at the moment so I’ll bring today’s utterances to a halt and I’ll check back in with you all tomorrow.

Have a good one folks.

Catch you all in the morrow.