Morning peeps. Happy Saturday to you and yours. Hope you guys are all good.

It’s going to be a scorcher this weekend and so after today’s brain dump I’ll be heading out to the garden to fire up the paddling pool I reckon! Come 2pm there will be a beached whale of a Suburban Gooner who will be partially immersed in hosepipe water. Can’t wait.

I also can’t wait to get back to the proper football. I don’t think I’ll bother with any of the internationals this weekend and I had a few of my non-football friends try to convince me to watch the rugby world cup. Nah. Can’t be having the egg chasers I’m afraid. Oddly I don’t mind watching the six nations when that is out, but I’m not sitting in to watch that nonsense on a weekend like this. Not no way, not no how.

I wonder what Mikel does on these weekend’s? Does he take the time to travel back to see family and friends in San Sebastian? Or will he do as I do and sit in the garden and relax?

I suspect given the personality he is, he will most definitely be dedicating some time to assessing where his team is at, what he needs to do to beat Everton and then after that the Scum at home. My mum was a maths teacher at a secondary school when I was growing up (don’t worry, I am going somewhere with this) and during the school holidays when all of my mates were out riding bikes and generally having a great ol’ time, there was at least a couple of days during the half terms in which my brother Steve and I would have to go in to school with my mum so she could prep for the new term or the second half of the term. The school was always empty so we had the run of the place. I wonder if Mikel does the same during the internationals? I wonder if he tells his wife and kids “come on, we’re heading in to London Colney so I can prep for after the internationals break”. And if that’s the case I wonder if his kids are as bored after three days as Steve and I were!

Then it occurs to me that as football fans we’re pretty lucky to have people who are working extra hard, longer hours, as well as when there could be a little bit of cheeky time off, just to ensure that they deliver the best possible results for us. All of the hard work and preparation that has to go in to the weekend’s 90+ minutes’ worth of action. All for our pleasure. Alright, they get remunerated handsomely and they are doing something that many of us could only dream of, but they still have to put the hard yards in and ultimately if Arsenal are successful and win football matches, we all benefit through much more happiness. As a football fan I rarely think about the work that goes on behind the scenes. I just turn up to the Emirates, or turn on my tv, to see the culmination of an entire week’s (sometimes less with the midweek games) worth of work and I make judgments based on that small pocket of time. If I think about it, the actual match part of a footballers life probably only makes up about 2% of their time. The rest of the time it is about that relentless training and automating of movements – passing, shooting, heading, etc – that they are honing time and time again. That level of repetition takes a lot of concentration I would imagine.

Anyway, I’m rambling, so apologies for that. But there isn’t a lot of Arsenal related stuff going on at the moment due to the internationals, other than the Mail (not linking to that atrocious site, sorry) reporting that Thomas Partey is going to be out for up to six weeks. Arteta had previously said that they needed to do a few more tests but I suspect most of us always thought it would be something around that period. It’s a blow because he’s an important part of the team, but this is where Declan Rice needs to keep doing what he is doing and what he did against Man United last weekend. He’s a different type of player to Partey – probably less of a passer and more of a carrier – but he’s been imperious since signing for us in the summer and the fact that we’re taking the mindset of “that’s a shame Partey’s injured” rather than “holy smokes this could derail our season” is certainly comforting for me and I expect you too. It means we have no other buffer if we get an injury to Rice, but you can’t live your life expecting everyone to get injured, because if that was the case we’d need a squad of about 50 players. Then if that was the case we’d have a bunch of unhappy players who aren’t playing all the time, so you can kind of see why getting the right balance of your squad is important and you also start to realise that the best kind of ability is availability. It’s a cliché I know, but already I look at players like Zinchenko and Tomi and you start to wonder if Arteta is going to be ruthless in the near future if either of those players lose much more game time this season through any length of injury. When the margins are as fine as they are with the objectives and aspirations Arteta has, it wouldn’t surprise me for him to start to phase out players who lack the ability to stay fully fit for a full season. Just look at how much he loved KT when he arrived; I know part of the reason he was phased out was stylistic, but I also just have a feeling that Arteta made a conscious decision to find somebody else after KT broke down in Arteta’s first season. I have no evidence to back that up of course, just a feeling, because Mikel is a ruthless man that wants to win all the time and I feel like he will have no sentiment in his pursuit of glory.

Right, I’m going to leave it there for today. You have yourselves a good one and I’ll catch you all tomorrow. IN the evening I’ll be talking to Charles Watts about his book on the Same Old Arsenal pod, so if you want to tune in here’s the link where you can watch it.

Catch you all tomorrow!