With Arsenal having essentially a week to, as Declan Rice put it, ‘reset’ ahead of their next game, I am wondering what the mood will be like after back-to-back defeats. Will the players feel as down as we all were after those results? How well can they compartmentalise them and give a reaction? How exactly do you overcome the slump in form that our attackers have, for example?

And let’s be honest here, it is a slump in form in front of goal. We can all look at underlying metrics, we can all console ourselves in the fact that we have been creating loads of chances, but the reality is that in our last five matches we’ve scored four goals – not even remotely good enough for an attempt on the title. I had a little look at how many we’d scored at 20 games last season and it was 45 goals scored. This season we have 37. So we’re seven goals worse off than last season and if you add those to this season’s tally, I’d bet we’d certainly be about six points better off at least. I know that the beginning of last season we were as good as we were probably going to be and that we were ‘running hot’ in the first half of the season, but it feels like we’ve swung the other way of the mean average this season. Of course we can swing it back, of course we can get back to winning ways and this team has shown us that it is good, but my worry is confidence; we all know how difficult it is to get back and so Mikel Arteta’s job for this week is to remind his players of how good they have been and how they know where the net is.

I guess ideally we could have done without arguably one of the toughest FA Cup third round ties you could get this weekend. Liverpool or City away would have been that, but at home is a close second behind them and whereas the Scum have a home game against second from bottom Burnley, Chelsea have a home tie against Preston, City host Huddersfield and United go to Wigan, Arteta has a more difficult task on his hand and one that threatens to turn this ‘Christmas blip’ in to something resembling a rough patch of form. Defeat to Liverpool means that’s four without a win and we then have two week’s in which there is a break, meaning that by the time we line up at home to Crystal Palace on 20th January it will have been just under 50 days since those players tasted a win. That’s a slightly nervy prospect and so this game at the weekend probably has a little more significance about it had we have won our games over the festive period.

Can Arteta afford for his team to have a ‘negative spiral’ by losing on Sunday? Can he therefore even rotate at a time in which we’re all reading noises across various social media channels that the likes of Saka and White are all carrying knocks? I’m not sure when Tomiyasu has to report to Japan for the competition, but I would suggest the Japanese national team might be thinking that it is cutting it a little too fine for him to play on Sunday, then be ready the following Sunday for their game against Vietnam. If you think about it, he would play on Sunday, then he’d probably not leave for Japan until Monday, maybe Tuesday if they want to give him a rest. Then he has to get on a plane, for which he’d probably need a days rest the other side, so he’s probably not linking up with his teammates until Thursday at the earliest and they play on Sunday.

I suppose the good news is that it is in Qatar. If it was in Japan it would be an even longer flight time, even more hours ahead and therefore more recovery time for the player needed, which would almost certainly rule out the chance he plays this weekend. But if Arsenal can charm the Japanese FA enough, maybe there’s an outside bet we have him playing. And if Zinchenko remains out this weekend, it feels like he’s almost certain to start.

And with complications like these players out injured or travelling to competitions in other corners of the world, it does feel as though we are really having to do a bit of a “once more unto the breach” for the players before they can head off to Dubai for their warm weather training. It’s going to have to be a strong side that plays and that means that Arteta is going to have to patch up some of those players before he can tell them to take a rest ahead of the next Premier League game. Again, you can see why playing a Huddersfield or Wigan might be a good opportunity to fast track that, but it’s the cards we have been dealt and we have to deal with that.

The other news that is bubbling under the surface is that Aaron Ramsdale wants out because he doesn’t want to miss the Euro 2024 squad this summer. I get that, but I can’t see how any move is sanctioned in January. Somebody would have to slap mega money down for him because Arsenal’s number three is Karl Hein and they won’t promote him; they’d have to go for a replacement in the market. Even if a club came in and wanted a loan the same situation would occur; we’d have to find a backup replacement and whilst that would be easier than – say, our striker search – it’d still be something that is a bit of a pain for the club. I can’t see anything happening but you never know based on whether the player pushes for it to get game time. I don’t really want to delve in to the why’s and wherefores of that situation as we’ve already gone over it, but it is all still a bit of a mess and it doesn’t really help anyone the way it has panned out.

And so we might still be playing the waiting game on that situation, as I expect we will on a few of the other holes in the team, because I don’t think Arsenal will move at all until the end of the window if anything and that means the month of January might be a tough one if we lose any more players to injury. I suppose the good news is that after this weekend we only have two games – home to Palace and away to Forest – but with the treatment table being a bit of a revolving door, Arsenal must still be keeping their eyes on the market. It would be wrong not to.

Catch up tomorrow.