Here we are folks – the final match day of the 2022/23 season. The expectations pivoted at some point from ‘just get the Champions League spot’ to ‘become champions’ and as such, today feels like a slightly sadder day than I was hoping it would be. But it is going to be a gloriously sunny day in North London and regardless of the disappointment of our second place finish for this season, these players deserve a good send of and a ‘thank you’ for their efforts this season. They were so good for so long of it, they looked every bit an elite football team and they have given us much more happy memories for this season than sad.

Today’s game at home to Wolves may not be the procession and march to the title that we hoped, but it should be a festival of appreciation and I for one will be singing my heart out in thanks to this group of players. Then, when the dust has settled on the season, we go again. But this summer we will be looking ahead at the 2023/24 season with much more enthusiasm and hope than we’ve had for very many a year.

In terms of the team Arteta will play today, I think he’ll go as full strength as possible and that will mean Ramsdale in goal, White at right back, Kiwior and Gabriel at centre half and I think he’ll give Tierney his place back on the left. It will probably be a final farewell for KT and I think Arteta will grant that to him. In midfield there is a genuine question over whether it is Partey or Jorginho operating in the holding number six role and this is the one position I think there are the biggest questions over. Xhaka and Odegaard will play in the eights, then it’ll be Trossard, Gabriel Jesus and Saka up top, with maybe some minutes for Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson at some stage in the game. But do you start Partey with the view that he’s the main man and maybe he can shake off his dreadful form of late? Or, because we will more than likely dominate the ball and spend a lot of the time in possession and needing control, do you give Jorginho the starting slot?

I’m kind of cool if either starts to be honest with you. This game has no real consequences for either team; Arsenal will finish second whatever, Wolves could drop down as low as 15th with a defeat, but in reality they won’t be too fussed about the difference between finishing 13th or finishing 15th, or if they win and Chelsea fail to win, maybe they’ll get as high as 12th. But regardless of what happens in other games, this one is about as dead rubbery as you can get.

Shall I tell you what I am looking for today? Renewed hope and excitement for next season. We’ll be in the new kit for 2023/24 and I want it to symbolise the planning and the mentality that we are already looking at next season and how we can improve. When we ceded the title to United in 2003 after being beaten by Leeds at Elland Road, there was a mindset shift that the team ‘go again’ and we prove everyone wrong about us, so we played Southampton at home and instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we absolutely battered Southampton 6-1, with goals from Pires and Pennant – a couple of hat tricks. That was the beginning of the 49-game run and it showed the mentality of that Arsenal side; on to the next one and let’s just do better than this season. And they did the following season, 19 seasons ago in 2003/4. That’s what I want to see from today. I want today to feel like the start of something special brewing for next season and if those players can put on a display as a taster for what we might get next season, then that’ll send us all off home very happy.

There’s not really a lot of point going in to details about Wolves or the tactical set up. They have scored the fewest goals all season and so you’d hope we’d be able to keep them out, but when Southampton came to the Emirates they were the worst team in the league with the worst number of ‘goals for’, yet we still shipped three against them. So I’m not going to sit here tapping at my keyboard and telling you that I expect this to be a cakewalk. I hope it is, but nothing is ever simple with The Arsenal, eh?

And I think I’ll leave it there for today. Time to grab the home kit, give it one last outing for this season, before heading to Islington for some brews with the lads.

Catch you all tomorrow.