So it looks like the second international hurdle has been overcome this week; it appears that Odegaard did 86 minutes and came off and I’m not seeing any news of any knocks, so that’s all gravy. Sadly Haaland also played 75 minutes so noises of his supposed injury – whilst he also quashed himself in the pre match press conference – were clearly way wide of the mark. Thomas Partey isn’t with the Ghana national team so we can breathe easy with that particular fixture, whilst David Raya went off at halftime in what feels like a pre-planned decision to give equal minutes to the ‘keepers, so that’s also good news. The rest of the first round of gauntlets is tonight, which will see Ramsdale and Rice for England all potentially up for action, with Saliba and Havertz facing off against each other as France host Germany. Cross everything guys.

Other than that there really is little going on at all. But oddly, I haven’t minded that, because it gives me to take occasional glances at the top of the Premier League and smile to see that we’re right at the top. Do I think we’ll be there come the end of game 38? Probably not, but it’s still nice to be in the mix and in the picture. I have even been having a sneaky look at the main players for our rivals to see if they’re getting the big minutes too. Van Dijk played the full 90 for the Netherlands, which is excellent, with Cody Gakpo also playing most of their win over Scotland, in which Andy Robertson also played the full 90. Good stuff – let’s keep those guys on the pitch as long as possible please, because we need to get any tiny perceived marginal gain we can and if as many City and Liverpool players can play as many of these minutes as possible, that’s a-ok with me.

Interesting that Harry Kane, Jack Grealish and Cole Palmer have all been ruled out of this game tonight against Brazil too. Honestly, what is even the point of these friendlies at this crucial time of the year, eh? They don’t need to happen. The Premier League could have brought forward the end of the season and finished the season a week earlier if this enforced FIFA/UEFA international break didn’t exist. And as we get to the crunch point in the season for so many teams as well, any slight knock and a player is sent home. I feel like it has been happening for years and yet here we are, once again, seeing meaningless friendlies take place. I hate international football during the season, I really do.

As for us, there seems to be more news filtering through from more sources about Saka’s withdrawal being precautionary. That is at least filling me with a little more hope that we can get him back for the Sunday after this one. The odds are already against us. I’ve seen one site suggesting that City are a 43/50 bet to win with us as high as 3/1 outsiders, which gives you an idea on what the odds market thinks of our chances. I understand that to be fair; we haven’t won there in an age, we’ve been so routinely spanked there that coming away with a 1-0 loss has felt respectable, so to think of us going up to the Etihad and picking up anything at a crucial stage in the season when Man City turn in to a winning machine, feels like a tall ask.

I tell you now: I’d bite yer arm off for a draw.

A draw would see us two points off Liverpool but I think a run of a few wins back-to-back after that may see them drop points with the games they still have to play. But defeat at the Etihad and it is going to feel like a tall order. Overcoming one of these juggernauts is hard enough, but two of them when they are both winning nearly all of their games feels like a stretch.

Which is why we’re all now sweating on the fitness of our Starboy; there’s a reason we call him all that and there’s a reason why we’re all now desperate for some kind of positive news from the club. He’s out top scorer in the league by five clear goals on 13 this season. He’s got the most assists by two on eight. Only Declan Rice and William Saliba have made more appearances than him so far and that one appearance he missed out on was the City game at home. We’ve proven we can beat them without him, but it feels like it’s a really tall order if any of our current strongest XI and core players are missing. And it feels like every time we play City we are light one or two of them. Just once I’d like to go in to a game with a fully fit squad up there in Manchester and see how we get one. Last season we got hammered, but it was with Saliba replaced by the severe downgrade that was Holding, it was a Partey that was clearly playing on one leg and a City team that were flying and had us tactically beat. This game in just over a week’s time could be a game in which we get to show a more truer face of The Arsenal and I’m desperate to see the likes of Saliba, Gabriel, Rice, Odegaard, Havertz, Saka and Martinelli all fit and able to give it 100% against the champions. Everyone keeps saying that if you finish above City you probably win the league. Well, let’s have a chance of doing that by having the best version of Arsenal on the pitch, eh?

That’ll do me for today I think. I’m off for a day of heavy drinking with friends so I probably won’t be in too much of a fit state to be posting anything tomorrow. So I’ll be back on Monday with some of the usual weekly ramblings.

Have a good one.