There was Mikel Arteta’s press conference yesterday and whilst there was a flurry of questions that he answered about Liverpool, team news, young players, the transfer window, etc, I think I’ll spend the vast bulk of today speaking about Thomas Partey, who Arteta confirmed had a set back in training this last few days and will be out for either days or weeks. He’s certainly not going to be in the squad for Sunday.

And I think, if we’re all honest, given the players injury history the ‘days’ comment from Arteta can be ruled out almost immediately. This is a player who has repeatedly been unavailable for us every single season and has finally tipped in to the Abou Diaby zone of being a talented guy that is just not available. And as a result, it is a bit of a waste of resource for the club, who will have missed one of their top earners for the best part of more than half a season if and when he comes back. I hear Arteta saying “weeks” and all I’m thinking is “we’ll see you in May for the lap around the pitch and the clapping the fans as the season has ended.

If I sound a little negative, if I sound a little downbeat, it is because I am. I had so much hopes that we might see him soon and as we all know, when he’s been fit and firing for us he’s made such a difference to our approach. But when he’s fit and firing since he signed has been less than any of us would have expected or wanted. I wrote about this a year or so ago, but before he joined us he had missed seven games in seven years for Atletico Madrid. He had made 132 appearances for them in that time, 37 for Mallorca on loan, 31 for Almeria on loan, so in that seven years he’d played 200 games. When we signed him we were signing a player who had rarely been injured and who looked a safe bet to be mainstay in our midfield. But since he has signed for us he has missed 64 games for us in four seasons. That’s an average of 16 games a season he has missed for The Arsenal. If we average 50 games a season in all competitions, every single year since he’s signed for us he’s missed a third of the season.

That simply isn’t good enough.

I know it isn’t his fault. I’m sure he hates being injured, but the club have to make steps to completely remove any reliance on him in the summer. I think you and I both know that they will. Arteta shipped Tierney on because of his style of play as we all know, but I also think part of that evolution from him was because he was injured half the time we were playing. It’s the same with ESR, although Arteta hasn’t shipped him on we have brought players in who play his position because ESR hasn’t been reliable enough from an injury perspective and I am 100% convinced that we’ll go out and get another top class, first team, six this summer. It’s why those noises last January about us wanting Caicedo and Rice were I think fed to the press with a grain of truth. Arsenal need to move on from Partey.

It’s a massive blow but I’m also reminded of the season we signed Sol Campbell from the Scum. He signed in 2001 and we still had Tony Adams as a first teamer and our captain. He was still a great defender and I was licking my licks at the prospect of Adams and Campbell as our two central defensive units at the back. They would be an absolute rock for us. But it never transpired that way. Adams played just 13 games for us all season having got injured in September and then returned at the end of March. We got to see him and Sol towards the end together and we got to see them partner in defence for the FA Cup final against Chelsea in which we won 2-0, but after that he retired and the amazing central defensive partnership that I thought we might have for a couple of seasons never really happened. Now if you fast forward to this season, how many of us have salivated over the prospect of a Partey/Rice/Odegaard midfield? Most Arsenal fans I reckon. Yet we will most likely only have seen it a couple of times come the end of the season, but this time, I’m a little older and wiser and I’m not going to hold out hope of ever seeing it. Let’s move on and look towards the future.

That’s summer thinking, but for now Arteta has to be doing some ‘in the now’ thinking and that means he needs to work out how to keep Declan Rice fit for the remainder of the season, because he has become a lynchpin of our team and when he is in it we are infinitely better. At the start of the season people wondered how much game time he would get! To be fair, I did too as I thought he and Partey would rotate, but having seen what we’ve seen, there’s absolutely no way that Rice was going to be anything other than first name on the teamsheet and at times this season he has held us together. Whilst the forward line has misfired at times and the two eights haven’t exactly been scintillating, Rice has shown what an elite player he is. Let’s just hope he continues that form.

Speaking of the two eights, more info emerged yesterday about that Havertz deal from Chelsea yesterday as David Ornstein was on an Athletic podcast talking about the deal to bring him to us. £65million and Arsenal matching his £275k-per-week wages. Blimey. I am desperate for Kai to succeed, he will get all of my support as an Arsenal player, but that kind of money is a ‘game changing’ footballer in this team. He is the club’s highest earner. He should be influencing games left, right and centre. Yet what we have had so far is an ‘in and out’ footballer who hasn’t exactly set the world alight. I get it, he’s halfway in to his first season at Arsenal and there are new things to learn and an adaptation period, but when you think he’s already been in the Premier League for a number of seasons, you can’t call the language or culture an issue. And if I’m completely honest, I haven’t really seen anything to suggest that even after one whole season, we’re going to get a player next season who is the best at the club. And that’s the money he is on now.

Let me re-iterate: he gets my support and I am hopeful he will come good. But it just feels as though we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes by both Chelsea and the players agent here. For that kind of money I expect more and hopefully he can deliver, because he hasn’t delivered value so far.

Tomorrow would be a good time to start.

Catch you all then for a match preview.