Morning Gooners and welcome to the end of the working week! Well, it is from me, obviously I’m not sure if yours is too, but even if not, I wish you a happy Friday nonetheless.

I decided to go have a couple of drinks and some Italian food with The Management last night, hence the delayed release of today’s blog, but it’s a weird one too because at the time of writing I see that Arteta’s press conference starts in about 15 minutes. What do I do? Wait until he’s finished? Or crack on? After all, the game is tomorrow and so I’ll be embroiled in talking about how I think the game pans out, rather than deliberating and over-analysing everything he says.

***Plays lift music in his head for 30 minutes***

Yeah, I waited. So we’ve just finished his presser and now we have a better idea – sort of – of who is fit to play tomorrow, so let’s start with that. He kicked off by telling us that they haven’t had any training sessions yet and have the first one today, so that’s pretty much an ‘on brand’ message from Arteta there. I suspect – and hope – that we’ll see a fair few of the injury-doubt players back tomorrow. He was asked about Saliba, for example, and his response was that “it depends on how he trains today”. So he’s in training, which says to me that assuming he doesn’t pick up a knock, he should be ready to go. There wasn’t really any definitive question on whether Saka is out for tomorrow, so I’m guessing there is a tacit admission from everyone in the room that he is in training and if that’s the case that’s also good news. We’ll most likely get the very choreographed pictures of players training and it’ll be pictures of players who we already know are fit, so I expect to see lots of close ups of Eddie Nketiah, David Raya, Gabriel Jesus and probably some of Martinelli too, given he got 45 minutes against City. Other than that from an injury front I didn’t really see too much. He repeated what he’s said before about Saka needing to play 70-odd games and there was talk about player burnout, which you’d expect given some of the statements from the PFA over the last week, but it was interesting to hear him also talk about the training they put players through. He talked about how there are certain types of training that they can’t just stop, but also about getting that balance right, which is fair enough. You can’t absolutely rag players in training and wear them out, then expect them to be fine come match day. I remember when Felix Magath was at Fulham a few years back and there was talk about how he had them running up and down hills all day to get their fitness up. I get that if you want to create a high pressing team that is super fit then you need to put their bodies through some strain to build their fitness up, but you can also fatigue players to the point where it goes the other way.

What you would say about this current Arsenal team is that we do look like we have the balance right. I know we have had injuries, but if you think about the way we press as a team, there is organisation in there as a co-ordinated press, but there is also a level of fitness which has clearly come through a detailed level of conditioning that happens in training. So it’s good to see and hear this talk from Arteta about balance.

There was also some stuff about the relationship between him and Pochettino and their time together at PSG, but I don’t really think I can be arsed to go in to that. It’s a bit like how all the noise that gets drummed up about Pep and Arteta, which he was asked again about this morning in relation to what Pep said to him after the game. Nothing, of course, because he’s pissed off he’s lost the game to Arteta and that’s what you’d expect. These are two really intense footballing guys who hate to lose. They are meticulous in their approach and they plan and counter-plan for everything, so when it goes wrong, they are hardly going to be chuckling away to each other afterwards. So I don’t really see much merit in going in to more detail about the inner workings of the relationship between Poch and Arteta.

What I am concerned with is that tomorrow when the first kick of the ball happens, we have the players in the right mindsets, ready to try to deliver a win at what will be a tough ground for us to go and get three points at. Arteta knows that and he mentioned that he is not expecting an easy game and apologies for labouring the point, but I said as much last week too. I’ll delve back in to that a little more tomorrow, but suffice to say, I’m not going to be as bolshy about our chances as some of the gooners I’ve seen on social media over the last week.

Final point from me from the presser which I thought was interesting: Arteta was asked about not having an out-and-out number nine in his team and I think his answer gave a good insight in to what he has tried to build for us this season. He said last season he wanted us to be unpredictable, to be able to have different options depending on the opponent and the game state and whilst we have had injuries that have forced our hand this season, I do think that the Swiss-army-knife approach we’ve got at the moment does mean that it’s a little more difficult to suss us out. It does also make it more difficult for us to ‘click’, as the players have to keep changing systems, but it does mean that after 25 games of playing the same approach, hopefully we’ll not come up against similar problems that caused us to kind of grind to a halt at the end of last season. It isn’t just about having a single focal point striker for Arteta, and I think we all recognise that and appreciate it.

Right, that’s me done for the day. Back tomorrow morning for the usual pre match waffle.

Have a good’un.