Morning folks, hope we’re all good? After the midweek of pretty tasty results for us, the weekend fare wasn’t quite what we’d have hoped for, as pretty much all the teams around us picked up points and it’s dropped us down to second, a point behind Liverpool. But hey, that is always going to happen; the teams that are towards the top of the league are there because most weeks they all win, so expecting anything other than a bunch of results where our rivals around us drop points when we have is probably quite naive. So we find ourselves very much in and around what I think most people are expecting to be the tightest league in probably a decade. This week Liverpool are top, last weekend it was us, at the end of match week 12 it was Man City, at the 10 game mark it was The Scum. And who knows, if we come unstuck against a Brighton who always seem to find a way to score goals and get results at The Emirates, then if we hold Liverpool to a draw or beat them, then it could be Aston Villa who see themselves top at Christmas, because they play Brentford away and Sheffield United at home. Brentford have been an in and out side this season, like playing a blind game of ‘pick the Quality Street’ i.e. you have no idea what you’re going to get. Then Sheffield United is probably a three-point banker for Villa so they could probably find themselves on 41 points at Christmas, which would be quite impressive from Unai Emery and his charges (although let’s not pretend that ‘plucky’ Villa haven’t spent cash – they spent around £85million in the summer I believe, as well as close to £100million in January and last summer – money does buy you a good team!).

This season it is going to be one in which I think 85 points wins you the league. Everyone is picking up points over everyone and there are some weird results out there; Villa lost 5-1 to Newcastle, but dished out a 6-1 to Brighton. West Ham beat the Scum in midweek, then yesterday went to Fulham and got absolutely battered 5-0. So many random results…but it shows that this really is both a tight league and a league in which strange things can happen. Consistency is key and that’s why these next couple of weeks are going to be really key because we have some really hard games and if we lose the next two then all talk of titles will probably disappear for the foreseeable future. It may be very tight at the top, but you only have to go a few games without winning and you can soon find yourselves adrift.

As for us, attention now turns to that last Champions League game tomorrow which, if we’re honest now that we’ve qualified, probably feels like a bit of an inconvenience of Mikel Arteta. I could understand that if it’s his thinking; we’ve got a packed December period as it is, we have already qualified, so if this game couple just be called off as a tie and the points shared between both teams, I bet Arteta would do it. I bet PSV would do it too – they have already qualified because they’ve beaten and drawn with Lens and so even a Lens win puts them level on points with PSV, meaning they can’t qualify anyway. So it’d be no skin off our nose or PSV’s if this game just didn’t happen tomorrow night. But we know that’s not how it works so the game needs to be played out. But against the backdrop of nobody really needing any points, my hope is that PSV want to rotate the sh*t out of this game too and that nobody wants to put a tackle in. It won’t make for the most exciting watch, but by golly, at least we can keep people fresh for what is always an intensive Christmas fixture list.

Arteta will do his presser today and my hope is that whilst he puts on a professional face and says something like “we are Arsenal, we want to win every football match”, that we get at least a hint that he is going to rotate the heck out of his entire time. I’ll do more on possible line ups tomorrow, but all we really need from today is some kind of soundbite to suggest he is planning to go deep in to the recesses of his squad to find players to play tomorrow. Let’s have yer Cedric’s and yer Elneny’s, let’s give Eddie the full 90 along with Jorginho and Kiwior; let’s get some minutes in to legs of players who  haven’t played much but who if we get some injuries, will need to have gotten some valuable time on the pitch which preps them for proper first team action.

Other than that there isn’t really loads going on as you’d expect given the team are prepping for tomorrow. I didn’t manage to catch much of the Arsenal ladies game at home to Chelsea but another record performance and a very impressive win against the side everyone is expecting to win the league this season in Chelsea is a big result at the top of the division. It puts Arsenal level on points now with them and that shows you just how important these big games at the top of the league are. Arsenal started off with that disappointing defeat to Liverpool at home on the opening day, then a draw away to United the following match week, but since then they’ve pretty much been flawless and in that division it often goes that way, so it means when you have those big games against rivals, it becomes even more important to win than it does in the men’s games, because the best teams rarely slip up against the sides lower down the league. They’re a couple of games away from the halfway stage and are in good shape and it looks like Russo is settling in well to her new team. So all good to see the ladies starting to click in to gear now.

And on that note of positivity, I shall bid you all adieu for today. Back tomorrow with a match preview of the dead rubber in the Champions League. Have yourselves a happy Monday.