I don’t know about you guys, but when I saw that Thomas Partey was an unused substitute in the game against Angola yesterday evening, my initial thought was of relief. After all, if he’s made the bench, then he must be available to be used, right? I mean, otherwise if he isn’t fit to play then Chris Hughton would have just sent him home with the physio we sent out to Ghana to keep an eye on him, right?

I think in the cold light of day, however, the more I think about this the more concerned I am for his availability this coming weekend. I feel like I remember Laurent Koscielny being on the bench in a game and all of us wondering why he didn’t get on the pitch, then finding out afterwards he wasn’t fit at all. So why even give him a place on the bench? Morale for the team? To keep the opposition guessing? No idea. But what I do know is that it sounds like the match last night was delicately poised and if that is the case and you need to bring on your best player, you do it, so that suggests to me that Partey was not as fit as we might all think he was.

Which then leads me to wonder why Ghana decided that he should play the full 90 minutes in the first game. If he was carrying the knock going in to the international break, then surely you manage his minutes? Perhaps he was unfortunate in that he picked up the knock in the game, but given the injury history he’s had since he was at The Arsenal, there seems like there is more than meets the eye on this one.

I guess we won’t really know until Arteta takes to the press room on Thursday/Friday this week and even then, given how cagey he always is with his injury updates, I don’t expect we’ll get any kind of confirmation on him or knowledge of whether he’s fit until Saturday. Unless he is completely out, but I don’t expect Arteta to even admit that, to be honest with you. If Partey is out for the Leeds game then he’ll probably just tell us he’s not sure, that he hasn’t trained, that we will have to see how he is on Saturday morning. Then we wait until 2pm to find out if he’s available.

If you’re looking at the games we have coming up though, if you’re going to rest Partey so that he can be 100% fit, you’re going to do that for Leeds at home ahead of Liverpool away the following week. At home against Leeds we should have more possession of the ball, we should spend more of it in the opposition half and you’d hope that we should be able to cope without Partey and be fine with Jorginho anchoring the midfield. It’s not ideal because there is clearly a step up in quality when you are talking about Partey compared to Jorginho, but if you have to manage the Ghanaians fitness now to make sure he’s good for the Liverpool game, then you just go ahead and do it.

Man, I can’t wait for these stupid internationals to be over. We have the final set of players this evening to worry about in Odegaard, Xhaka, Tierney and Trossard to worry about this evening, then we’re done. I think the first two are the two that we’re all most concerned with, but we need all of these players to come back with a clean bill of health because I have a feeling we’re going to need more than just the first choice XI to play a few games between now and the end of the season. Cross everything and hope we can get good news come tomorrow when the players return.

Away from the here and now of player availability, there was also some leaked pictures of the new kit doing the rounds on social media yesterday. I had a look at it and I have to say it looks okayish. Adidas will have to go some way to beat this season’s three options because all three have been superb kits and as I’ve said to a few peeps over the last seven or eight months since they came out, I’ve never actually gone out and bought all three kits in a season before. I’d be surprised if I do that again and this kit doesn’t look like one I’d be particularly fussed about going out to get, but hey maybe I’ll feel differently in the summer after all of the real football has died down. I’m also not sure on the gold stuff and feel like it’s tempting fate on a potential title defence season…

The kits from this season have been amazing though and it would certainly be a nice way to make them have their mark in history as being title winning kits. I still – even now – think it’s an outside bet given the games we have coming up, but I don’t want to dwell on that just yet as I’ve spent enough time looking at the table and being fraught with anxiety in the last few weeks. For now I’ll just leave these thought of possible title-winning kits to the back of my mind.

One final signing off piece, which is that there are rumours that Saka is getting a new £300k-per-week contract to stay at The Arsenal. If that’s true, it is deserved because he is our star player, but what I also hope it does is get him committed for longer than the four years we had before. That sort of deal you want to have a player tied down to a five year deal plus one on the end for good measure, so I hope that’s what the club are doing. If so, then it’s a great move and a sensible one to keep him aligned to us for a long time, because it means hopefully he and Arsenal can flourish in the coming years.

Right, that’s me done for today. Catch you all tomorrow for some more ramblings. Let’s all cross our fingers that Partey is fit for the weekend.