We’re nearly there folks…closing down on exiting this interminable international break and we can get our focus back to Everton on Sunday, which will be a tough trip as it always is for us, having not won there in what feels like a bazillion years.

Hopefully we’ll also have the benefit of having Gabriel back in the squad too. He got called up to the Brazilian national team and then had to have an ice pack on after he was subbed off in their game against Bolivia for the end of the game and it was feared that we could lose him for a short period of time after seeing him nursing what looked like an injury, but a couple of reports have come out suggesting that he should be fine to play in their next game against Brazilian which is in the earlier hours of the morning a little later. Obviously it is good news if he is declared fit for that game, but hopefully he is available but not selected. I’m not really sure how he actually played against Bolivia but if he played well then there would probably be a clamour for him to start again. If he does, let’s just hope the medical team are sensible with their decision making. If I’m right in my memory, I think there were some question marks over Gabriel Jesus before he picked up his knee injury during the World Cup and if the similar happens with Gabriel, we really would start to look a little thin on the ground in defence.

We’ve lost Timber. Tierney and Holding have gone. We have two players in Zinchenko and Tomiyasu who have broken down during their stints at the club and in Tomiyasu’s case it is two years in a row. Then we have Saliba – who we were all nervous about his back injury at the end of last season, as they can traditionally take a long time to heal and they don’t always just go away – as well as White and Kiwior, with Thomas Partey as a deputy, although we can officially now say he is injury prone given he is currently out. As it stands we have six fit defenders for four positions, with two of those six having spent time on the sidelines and Zinchenko has already missed a game or two at the beginning of the season. We cannot afford to lose Gabriel for a long period of time and so my hope is that the Brazilian medical team run about a billion tests on him before he is cleared to play later.

I haven’t heard of any other players with any problems so far, but I guess it is still early days as players won’t start coming back to the club until probably Thursday, for the club to assess them then and on Friday to see how fit they are to play. When you think that they probably then have to board a coach/plane on the Saturday, it doesn’t give loads of time to make a judgement on what players are good for the weekend’s action, does it.

Sorry, I omitted one player from the list of defenders, probably because I was doing my best to try to forget him. Cedric was announced in the Champions League squad that was announced yesterday and clearly that is an indication that he is still part of Arteta’s plans. Now, it may just be that they had a space so thought they’d fill it, but given he is a guy who I don’t think has even made a bench yet, it makes me think that he will be very low in the priority order for a starting position. It is true that in theory he can play either right or left back, but his performances at left back have hardly been anything to write home about and as a right back – his most favoured position – it feels like Arteta will use about three or four players before he gets to Cedric. Which suggests to me that his inclusion is very much a “oh, are you still here?” kind of situation, with perhaps the manager just using this as an opportunity to show him that yes, if EVERYBODY is injured or suspended, you might get a look in.

We couldn’t offload him in the summer, so we might as well have him in the squad as a body, even if the intention is to play as many other players in that position as is humanly possible.

“David Raya, you’re good with your feet. Want to put on a red shirt today?”

Lino Sousa also got in to the squad too, which must be pretty amazing for him, as the 18-year-old has played 32 times for the under-21s and has clearly impressed enough to get a call up. I always find these announcements interesting because I believe technically Sousa could qualify for the ‘B list’, which is essentially the option to have unlimited youth players in your squad, but perhaps it is a kind of public announcement by the club that they are impressed with how he is progressing and that he’ll be one of the first youth team players on the list to travel for some of the Champions League away nights. There’s also James Hillson in the squad, however, who is behind Karl Hein in the team as a goalkeeper, although I suspect again that is more because Hein is able to be qualified in ‘List B’ and therefore they can call him up anyway. So perhaps in that instance it is more that Hillson needs to be included because he wouldn’t be eligible to play at all if the worst happens and we suffer the world’s greatest goalkeeper crisis.

The reality is that he will probably never board the plane, but again perhaps it is nice for him just to see his name on the Arsenal website as an option. It’s certainly more than I ever managed to achieve in my footballing life!

Other than that there’s not really a lot going on, as you’d expect. There was something on the official site yesterday about Tim Akinola agreeing a permanent deal to Qatari side Al Bidda, but Tim never made a single squad for us I don’t think and this is clearly just another move to get some money in for a youth team player. I don’t suspect it’ll be any bank busting move though.

Right, I’m done for today. Off for another day of fun and frivolities at work. Have a good one with whatever it is you’re doing.