Howdy peeps, hope we’re all doing well on this Thursday ahead of a trip to Turf Moor for one of those most precious of things: A 3pm kick off.

Obviously I prefer it when it’s at home, but these days with the ability to ‘find ways’ to watch or listen to football anywhere, it’s less of an issue, although I think The Management prefers it less than the old days. Five or six year’s ago if it was a 3pm kick off away from home she’d say we needed to do shopping, or we had to pop out somewhere and instead of getting me saying “Nah, football’s on”, I’d oblige because I knew I just had to have my phone with me and keep an eye on the live text score from the BBC website or something similar. But these days it’s a “staying at home to watch it” jobbie and that’ll be me come 3pm this Saturday.

Until then we have the build up which begins in earnest tomorrow with Arteta’s press conference and all eyes will inevitably move to who is available for the trip to Lancashire. Hopefully we get some good news and some returnees. I’d like it if the club did some of the photographs of training where we get a little indication, but as we all know by now, chance would be a fine thing. The photo’s taken and released each week only ever show either youth players joining in training with the first team, or players that we already know are fine and fit. I guess if you wanted to you could argue that Saka came off and Arteta was asked about him on Sunday, plus we have Rice who a few people I saw on my socials said that he looked like he was limping a bit. So based on the training ground footage those minor question marks appear to be answered, but what we’re all hoping for glimpses of is the likes of Zinchenko, or ESR, to see if/what they are doing. Jorginho took a knock and was on the bench last Sunday, but the fact they were happy to have him on the bench shows that he was probably fine anyway.

And it’s not like Arteta will give us any update on any of the seven first team squad players who were out last weekend anyway. Well, he might give a shout out for Tomiyasu if he was just rested following the Asia Cup to get over his jet lag, but that’s about it really, I suspect.

Mind you, it’s not as if we needed those players for the result against West Ham, eh? Those that took to the field did a fine job indeed and when you bag that many goals in such a short period of time (we had got all six by the 65th minute), fatigue probably doesn’t impact as much. In fact I know it doesn’t; Paul Merson once aside – I think on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday – that when you win football matches and are winning well that you don’t feel it as much. Adrenaline is a short, sharp burst in to your body that helps you to quick act and go up a gear, so you can’t do that over a prolonged period of weeks. But I’m sure the mental side of winning helps to force your body to repair itself and be more ready for a game, so I’m sure that’s also what Merse was talking about all those year’s ago.

And after that hammering last week you’d better believe those players have been doing well in training this week I’d imagine. Let’s just hope that continues away at Burnley in just a couple of days time.

As another quick aside, Adrian Clarke’s piece on the official site about how we beat West Ham is a good one. I said on the Same Old Arsenal pod straight after the game that I thought it was interesting that we seemed to have nobody that truly adopted the centre forward, or even ‘false nine’ position when we played against West Ham and Adrian picks out the movement of the forward line in his analysis from the game. I’ve always loved Arsenal teams who are so fluid in attack. The best ones of the Wenger era used to move around a lot and often you’d find Bergkamp drop back along the midfielders, or Henry do the same and Pires/Ljungberg drift in to central attacking spaces. It is the hardest thing for a defender to do, to mark layers who are moving around so much. Do you follow the man you are detailed to stop? Or do you hold your position and have to deal with a different threat of player every couple of minutes? You often hear about substitutes getting on and needing time to get in to the rhythm of a game, but when you’re a player and you know the type of player you are up against, you adapt your game accordingly. If one minute you’re engaged in a physical battle with a big centre forward-archetype, then the next you’ve got a little guy who will wriggle around you as he likes to keep the ball at his feet, it has an impact on the way you approach a game. It means you have to constantly change your body shape of how you are going to deal with the threat in front of you and if you aren’t spot on with your decision making, then it fashions chances with the opponents.

This is why I hope we continue showing this variety between now and the season. It doesn’t mean we have to keep the same team all the time with the same players, but ensuring that we keep the opposition defenders guessing by having constant movement and rotation across the attacking players is important for creating space, I think. In fact the only person who didn’t move around as much as Saka, but he’s such a gem of a player that it doesn’t matter, as evidenced by his two goals and man-of-the-match award given to him by Sky last Sunday.

We’re in a rich vein of form right now and we need it to continue for the foreseeable future given some of the easier games City has, but if we continue to evolve tactically as we have done post-Dubai trip, then we’ll be in a good position to at least fight for this title.

Catch you all tomorrow.