I’m a cat owner, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a loveable dog. And so when I saw that Mikel Arteta had hand selected himself a chocolate Labrador to roam the halls and fields of London Colney, I thought it was a great idea. The thought that there will be an affectionate pooch bounding around made me smile, and yet I will never meet it (most likely). That got me to thinking about how the staff and players might respond and I can only think about it as a positive. It will give off happy vibes, Mikel himself said it will need a lot of love and it will give love back and if it helps to calm players and staff, to make the workplace environment more happy and reduce stress and tension, then what’s not to like?

Apparently one of the staff is the owner, which explains about who looks after her and it was hand selected by Arteta, which I would fully expect. I wonder how he got one of the staff to sign up to looking after her though. Something on the notice board perhaps?

Who wants a dog? I want someone to look after an absolute beaut that I found and I want her to roam free across the fields. Give me a shout in my office. MA.

I like the idea too because it’s another example of how Mikel is trying to be innovative and find ways in which he can create an environment that is a happy environment, as well as a competitive one. Give your people the best place to work – which let’s face it is where they spend most of their time – and try to find those marginal gains that will enable them to go that little bit further.

And it’s stuff like that, ideas that Arteta has that are very creative, that I think bode really well. He’s a guy who is very creative in ways in which he wants to motivate his players and that is important because when you’re hearing from the same voice every day, you can quite easily start to become numb to what they are saying. That is, of course, unless that voice is constantly changing, adapting and thinking of new ways to motivate and engage. Hopefully it keeps driving the players and hopefully next season we can go again and have a similar season to this season (albeit hopefully with a better outcome at the end).

Today we have a match day though, one of two left and pretty much a dead rubber as we all know. Chelsea will fold like crisp piece of white A4 paper tomorrow and Financially Doped FC (FDFC) will pick up yet another title. So what do we do today against a Forest side fighting for their lives?

Well, we’re forced in to more changes because Martinelli has been confirmed as being out for the rest of the season. Which is basically a week so I’m not really too fussed about that. Arteta confirmed that he and Zinchenko are out for the next week or two and it means our team today will be without four of what you’d call the ‘first XI.’. It means that there will be a start for Trossard I suspect and hopefully he can make amends for a pretty lacklustre weekend last time out at home to Brighton. Our team will be a full strength other than the injuries though, I suspect, which I think will mean:


White   –   Kiwior   –   Gabriel   –   Tierney


Odegaard   –   Xhaka

Saka   –   Gabriel Jesus   –   Trossard

That, on paper, should be enough to beat Nottingham Forest, but against Brighton in the second half it really did look like the spark had gone and I do wonder about the levels of motivation today. Don’t get me wrong, they are all professional footballers and when they step out on to the turf there will be a desire to win. But if Forest find themselves going a goal up then how much fight will we see from this Arsenal team? I suspect they know the jig is up and there won’t be the same intensity as there would be if we were level on points with City going in to the final week.

And hey, if that happens, I’m not going to chastise the team. They have done so well for so long this season, but the squad just fell short as injuries to key players kicked in. Arteta alluded to that when he was asked about whether they could compete on multiple fronts like the Premier League and Champions League. His answer was a pretty blunt ‘not at the moment’ and he’s right. Which is why we’re getting so much noise about who Arsenal are after and why they want to be moving quickly this summer. They know they need to add quality and depth and whilst we are all hoping that they move rapidly when the season is over, I think we all need to brace ourselves for a lot of back and forth over players, as clubs like West Ham drive some proper drawn out processes to string along us as long as possible over the summer.

Look at me, on a match day, spending a bit of time on what happens in the summer. That’s very unusual for me, but it is probably because I’m sort of ready for the season to be over now. We gave it a good shot, next weekend our opportunity comes to cheer the players and let them know we appreciate the effort of making us competitive again, but right now I’m just a bit ‘meh’ about this game. Maybe we could give some rotation chances to the likes of ESR, or Fabio Vieira? Whatever we do, I’ll still watch, but the jeopardy doesn’t feel like it’s there for the first time this season. In a way perhaps that’s a good thing; the nerves and worries all season is better than a general feeling and apathy over the club and what it is doing. Arsenal made us feel alive this season and because of their form it is only now that I have those ‘meh’ feelings. Three to four years ago that was happening every week, so that’s something to be grateful about.

Right, that’s me done for the day. Catch you all tomorrow for a debrief on the result.

Have a good one folks.