Howdy peeps, hope we’re all feeling good on this Premier League weekend?

The big matches don’t happen until tomorrow with Man City going to Everton to pick up what will inevitably be three points as Everton lie down and have their chins tickled by a Man City side who will feel pretty confident that they can do what we could not. It’ll be a case of ‘advantage City’ by the time our match comes around to being kicked off, for sure, because I don’t know where some people’s hopes have been that they will feel the fatigue after the Madrid away game. They played on Tuesday and will have got back to Manchester on Wednesday, with Thursday, Friday and then today to prepare for the game, before travelling to the next City over in Liverpool. So let’s not have any hope in other places.

Instead, we’ll need to focus on ourselves and yesterday Arteta sat in front of the assembled media to give updates on player injuries between now and the end of the season. Arteta didn’t rule out Zinchenko or Saliba before the season finishes, but I think we can all take it as pretty much confirmed that they are out. His comments about whether it’s a chance for Kiwior and Tierney to step up was interesting, because he wasn’t really in the mood to give a shout out to KT and talk about what a great pro he is, etc, which I’ve seen him do before. Instead he simply said that there are always chances for everybody to step up. That’s the right mentality to have and I’m glad that he is constantly pushing and always wanting more.

There’s a Japanese term that I first learned about in business called Kaizen. It means ‘good change’ or ‘improvement’ but in Western world it has essentially evolved to a theory of ‘continuous improvement’. It is the feeling that there is always more to do. There are always more innovations to be had. You can always make changes and improve and when you have that mindset it sets you up for success because to be ahead of the game – whether it is in business or in something like elite sport, you have to continually innovate. In Arteta’s press conference yesterday he talked about the team still being very far away from where he wants them to be. He was specific about build up play, man-to-man situations and overall game management and when I read some of those comments from him this morning, this idea that he is constantly striving for more, wanting that Kaizen approach adopted within the club, made me quite excited for what the future holds.

This is a very young team. Arteta has idea about how far he can take his team and he spoke about how we don’t have a single player who has reached their peak. I think probably there are one or two I would question on that, given age, etc, but then again when you think how much Granit Xhaka has evolved this season, maybe there is more that can be got from the likes of him, Elneny, Jorginho, Partey, etc?

He also talked about how he’d been holding back some of his innovations and he admitted he had, which also filled me with some excitement. At the beginning of the season he basically flipped the concept of what our full backs do. Ben White on one side and then Zinchenko coming in to midfield on the other. That was a great tactical innovation, but teams will always get wise to it. I remember the first season Arjen Robben really exploded on to the scene for Chelsea all those years ago; he was lightning quick and scored a bucketload of goals through cutting in from the right and banging in goal after goal. He was still good the season afterwards, but he wasn’t as prolific, if my memory serves me right. That’s because defenders figured him out to an extent. He was still good and still managed to bag goals, but his main trick wasn’t a guarantee every game. That’s what teams will start to do for next season for us. They will learn about the spaces we vacate and where we are strongest and they will find ways to counter that. So what we have to do is to continuously improve, to innovate on our tactical approach, to keep teams guessing. So the fact that Arteta is talking about more ideas that he has had that he hasn’t implemented just yet, is really positive from my perspective.

The rest of the press conference was the same questions from journalists who asked things about contracts for the likes of Ramsdale, on breaking our transfer record, blah, blah, blah. He didn’t of course answer any of them properly – why would he – so I’m not sure it’s worth talking about it much on here today. If/when these things happen then we can all be happy and rejoice. Until then I’m personally not giving it too much thought.

So with that in mind, I’ll think i’ll call it a day today. I have a day of exercise, shopping and then a family virtual Eurovision party going on later this evening, so that’ll be fun, before the real fun happens tomorrow at the Emirates tomorrow*. Catch you all tomorrow.












*When I say ‘fun’, I mean ‘nerves’, ‘anticipation’ and at times downright terror, of course! But I wouldn’t change it for the world!