Morning folks and welcome to Saturday. We’ve still got over 24 hours until we rock up at The London Stadium (one of the worst to get in and out of I’ve ever experienced, I have to say) and yesterday Arteta was doing his usual press conference stuff in the afternoon to give us an insight on the camp, player availability, as well as the Celebration Police and blue cards too.

I’ll start with the blue cards, because I think it’s the quickest one to tick off the list of talking subjects. It’s an utterly farcical idea and I’ll be shocked if it gets off the ground. In politics they have a thing where they test an idea on a policy out by feeding some details to the press to see what the general consensus will be amongst the public if they rolled it out. If it is met with derision then they don’t face the ignominy of getting pilloried when they release it as an actual policy, so they can scrap an idea before it even comes to fruition. That’s what this feels like because yesterday as I was cooking I had Sky Sports on and all I could hear was managers essentially rubbishing the idea. It wouldn’t work, we’d end up with too much subjectivity on what constitutes things like dissent, it would be a disaster. Then during the same show I heard that a decision on an announcement had been delayed a week and I suspect that by this time last year everyone will have forgotten about this crazy idea. Or at least I hope so.

As for the celebration police, well, I thought Arteta handled it brilliantly. He simply said he hadn’t heard or bothered to read about any of the furore, he loved the passion, whilst also getting in a very subtle dig about how there have been plenty of opposition managers at the Emirates who have shown just as much – and sometimes more – of the passion and celebration that he showed on Sunday. In the bin with your opinions, Carragher and Sutton.

And so we move to the team news for this weekend, which as you’d expect wasn’t set in stone, but he was a bit clearer on a few players. For example Saka who limped off on Sunday, is apparently ok, which is a relief. He also sounded a little more bullish on a few of the other question marks like Jesus, Tomiyasu and Zinchenko. It’s interesting because on the preview pod on the Same Old Arsenal show  Alan Alger had said that he had been to a conference and Zinchenko had been saying at that conference that he was injured and so wouldn’t play this weekend. I’m not saying Alan or Arteta are misplaced with their words, but if Zinchenko is in contention, it’s a bit weird that he’s been telling people at a conference that he’s injured, no? I wonder if he’ll not be risked this weekend and I suspect there will be a bit of a sharing of duties between Kiwior and Tomiyasu tomorrow, which is what Arteta is talking about when he talks about getting a few people back. If he welcomes back Tomiyasu and Jesus then technically his press conference words are true; that’s two out of three that are coming back, having also confirmed that Saka is ok.

He also didn’t put a timeline on Partey, just saying that he’s ‘progressing well’ but that it was ‘too soon’ to put a time on his return. I think if Partey is a week away from training then Arteta would probably be saying that, so I have a feeling that we aren’t seeing him until at least March at the earliest at that stage. Whatever about when he’s available, however, I’ve essentially ruled him out of my mind as an option. If we get him back at any stage as cover then great, but this team is going to have to do it between now and the end of the season without him, in my opinion. To be fair to them we’re in the hunt for a title race and we’ve barely seen him all season, so they’ve done a pretty good job so far as it is.

He was also asked about a few individuals – Martinelli, Jorginho and his contract, as well as Odegaard’s form. ON Martinelli, I love hearing that he’s never satisfied, always willing to strive for more and always hassling the boss for a starting place! That’s what you want from all of our players. If you go back five or six year’s ago, it did feel like we had a fair few players who just ran through the motions. There were some pro’s in our team who you just felt that they were happy collecting their mega wages, but what Mikel has done in his time at the club is completely eradicate that and it’s now reflected in the style of football, the hunger, the pressing and the will to win of these players he’s assembled together. It has taken a fair bit of time, but we’re now in a position where as an Arsenal fan I genuinely feel like these players will run and run until they’re ready to throw up for this club. They all have the hunger. Just look at Odegaard; that kid leads our press, is constantly closing down a keeper or defenders and it feels like the amount of ground he covers sometimes is more than anyone else on the pitch. That kind of desire is fantastic. But it’s not just desire and hunger that makes a team successful. You have to match that with co-ordination and a plan and I think that is also where Arteta needs to take some flowers. Remember when we used to see Alexis Sanchez lead a press and do just what Odegaard did, but then he’d turn around and nobody else had done the same? That at times demonstrated a lack of a singular team approach; players doing their own thing and it often just meant it would knacker the Chilean out. Now we have a manager who is setting his team up to act as though each player has a symbitotic relationship with each other and when it works and we turn the ball over high up the pitch because of our pressing, it is brilliant to see.

I’ll quickly touch on Jorginho before I stop for today, because Arteta didn’t really answer the question over a new deal, but for me I think we have to activate it. I will admit to being a massive sceptic when he joined; a 31-year-old joining from a failing Chelsea team who Chelsea fans seemed happy to get rid of and happy to have got £10million for a player who had just six months left on his deal. But he’s come in to The Arsenal and offered a great option as a rotational midfielder. He was superb against Liverpool and I’ve heard a few podcasts this week suggesting he might be worthwhile to start against West Ham. For me to have that level of experience in the midfield, having lost Xhaka and essentially Partey from last season, his experience will have been invaluable and I’ll be surprised if Arsenal don’t activate the extra year when we get to the summer. I hope they do and that’s quite a turnaround to how I was feeling about the player just a year ago. Good on him.

And on that positive note, I’m off to go for a run, so I’ll catch you lovely people tomorrow and hope you have a splendid Saturday.