Morning Gooners, hope we’re all good? Happy Friday and all that jazz. I had a weird ol’ dream last night, I gotta tell ya. Leeds United and Brighton teamed up to play us in a Premier League game at Elland Road, which the Premier League allowed obviously (must have been too focused on chucking out charges and seeing them through against anyone but Man City), so we had to navigate a Marvel Team Up style battle against these sides where they got to pick their best players. The good news is that we absolutely five-a-side-style smashed them 10-4, although annoyingly the only time we scored was when I left my seat in the ground. I realised it when we were 3-0 up and we got to 6-0 solely because I had left my seat, so I walked out of the stadium and kept checking locally stationed TVs to watch the game, which would be every time we scored when I was watching on TV. Unfortunately the opposition also happened to score when I did that. Maybe at 6-0 up I should have gone home. Arteta would have been furious with me if he knew that I had the power to ensure another clean sheet.

Anyhoo, back in the real world, let’s start with the more troubling news from yesterday, which was that Bukayo Saka was confirmed as withdrawing from the England squad yesterday evening, which had my heart sink when I watched it on Sky Sports News. “Here we go again” I thought; it feels like we are destined to never play City with a full strength team, because Saka was missing for the home game against them this season, Partey missed the home game last season and it was Saliba and Tomiyasu in the away game last season too.

Can we just play them with a fully-fit squad please??

There have been some rumours about it being precautionary, but I don’t expect we’ll really get any idea until next Thursday or Friday when Arteta has his press conference. And even then we won’t get an answer from him. If he’s out then Arteta will say “it’s touch and go” or something similar, but if he’s fit he’ll still say “I don’t know”. I saw some ITKs suggesting that it’s just precautionary and that Arsenal fans shouldn’t be too worried; apparently he reported to training with a knock and hasn’t been able to train whilst with the England squad, so I guess we all just need to collectively hold our breath that he’ll be ok for nine days time.

If he isn’t training though it does cause slight concern. Nine days feels like a fairly decent time frame for recovery but if he has been carrying a knock for a while and he’s just had 10 days off since we last played Porto and has had zero training in that time, will an extra nine days make a difference. Arsenal will be very mindful of any niggle he has and so they’ll probably give him a week and see where he’s at, but a couple of week’s off the training ground will surely have an impact on rustiness. We are talking about elite sport here and players that are one or two percent off can look very different. At this stage of the season their bodies are like well-oiled machines; we just have to hope that his recovery time allows him to be fit for City away.

We had 13 internationals out on duty according to the official site, which also lists Saka and Gabriel, so that means we’re now sweating on availability of Zinchenko, Kiwior, Ramsdale, Rice, Saliba, Havertz, Trossard, Raya, Jorginho and Odegaard all in action. Kiwior played the full 90 and Jorginhgo came on as a 66th minute sub for Italy. Zinchenko played 76 minutes last night and it doesn’t sound as though he came off with an injury, so that sounds positive so far. The rest will play tonight and tomorrow, with matches concluding on Wednesday next week I think. For somebody like Zinchenko 76 minutes is a good thing; he hasn’t played much lately, there will be some rust in there too, so getting minutes in those legs yesterday and then on Tuesday next week could be a good thing.

That’s also obviously what the club thought too when they arranged a behind-closed-doors friendly, as we faced QPR yesterday with both Partey and Tomiyasu getting a run out. Partey played just over an hour and Tomiyasu got the first 45 minutes and it seems as thought they came through it ok. For Thomas you’d think that it was the most valuable given he basically hasn’t played since right at the start of the season, but I wonder what the quality was like given we fielded a bunch of youngsters alongside him? The Arsenal XI lost 4-0 which obviously shows the gulf in class against a pretty strong QPR team by the sounds of it, but for me – and for Arsenal’s coaching staff – it was probably more important to look at how rusty Partey looks too. He looked incredibly heavy-footed when he came on against Brentford the other week and I suspect he will look like that for a few games now, regardless of getting this run out against QPR. I doubt he’ll be in a position to impact such a high-intensity, chess-game-like match like City away next weekend, but just having him on the bench as an option for 10-15 minutes must be a positive for Arteta. Let’s not forget that this guy was the lynchpin to our team last season and we even managed to get something like 33 out 0f 38 Premier League games out of him last year, so the sooner we can have him back fit and giving us the elite option that he can be, the better.

There’s not a lot else going on at the moment, as you’d expect with many of the squad away on international duty, so I think I might leave it there for today. And kudos to the club for banning some so-called ‘supporters’ for tragedy chanting at the Liverpool game. We are a club that prides itself on our class and as supporters we need to embody that too; there is no place in football for chanting like those Arsenal ‘fans’ did.

Right, catch you all tomorrow for some more ramblings, so enjoy your Friday and I’ll see thee in the morrow.