So, we’re done with this frigging pointless friendlies and, as suspected Gareth Southgate kept Declan Rice on the pitch for the full 96 minutes last night. I flicked on and awatched about 10 minutes of the first half as I was cooking to see Pickford have a howler, then I heard about Lewis Dunk’s howler, then I didn’t bother checking any more until this morning when I’ve just got up to see what’s happened to our lads and whether we have any initial worries and fallout.

That’s two international matches in four days for Declan Rice in which he’s played the 90 minutes plus injury time. F*ck you Gareth Southgate, you absolute weapon. At a time in the season where everyone knows that running players in to the ground is completely pointless for international friendlies that mean nothing, you go and try to empty the tank of one of our most important players. Absolute idiot. I just hope that the immaculate engine remains in tact for Rice; I’m sure it was a proud day for him and his family but if he breaks down for any reason in the next few weeks, I’m looking at this opportunity to rest him and the fact he’s played the absolute maximum in two dead rubber games as having one factor. Sometimes I absolutely detest international football.

Thankfully the Belgium boss has a modicum on sense about him and Trossard came off on the hour mark. Because I didn’t watch the game I don’t 100% know if he’s fine, but having read a bit online it seems as though there was no untoward reason, although the same can’t be said for John Stones, who came off after 10 minutes and there’s talk about how he jarred his leg. Southgate suggested an adductor and that will call in to question his potential availability for Sunday’s game, although I suspect there will be some kind of miracle cure. They’re saying that Walker is going to be fine so I’m suspecting the same of Stones. If he is injured that’ll be the second time he’s been forced off after picking up a knock in the Community Shield if I remember rightly, so it will most likely be him being replaced by Nunes or Kovacic in midfield alongside Rodri, but let’s believe it when we see it, eh?

Elsewhere Raya didn’t get on the pitch against Brazil, which is a-ok, but at least Rodri and Kaporte got full minutes for Spain. Unfortunately Kiwior was involved in the full 120 minutes against Wales as they beat the Welsh on penalties, so I suspect Arteta is going to have a look at how that’s impacted the 24-year-old when he arrives back at London Colney probably tomorrow I’d suspect. On the one hand he’ll be knackered and emotionally that would be a big one for the big Pole, but on the other the fact they went through might have him in jubilant mood. The good news is that Zinchenko played 30-odd minutes as Ukraine beat Iceland to qualify for the Euros and so Zinchenko should be fine to come in if Kiwior is a consideration to be rested, plus we’ve had Tomiyasu in training and playing a behind-closed doors friendly last week, so the hope will be that we’re well covered in at left back.

Martin Odegaard played 79 minutes and I’m not seeing anything about him coming off, which is good, plus Saliba played the full 90 having not played any minutes in his previous French match, so if I’m looking at that as glass half full I guess you could argue that he’s played one game over this international period so that shouldn’t have drained too much from the tank. Havertz came off on 73 minutes and again, not seeing any negative stuff so I’m hopeful that he’s ok, which means I think – fingers crossed – we have a full bill of health from last night’s games. Of course now we have to wait for Arteta to deliver a verdict on the likes of Gabby Jesus, big Gabby (who has been carrying a knock on his Achilles which is why he didn’t go to the Brazil national team this time around), Martinelli and Saka, who was sent home. Of all of those players I suspect Saka is the biggest worry and we have to hope that he’s been given plenty of treatment, he’s been able to rest the problem that he’s been having, which by the sounds of it is muscular. If that’s the case then you have to hope that it’s just fatigue and if he’s been able to rest the week before last because of our lack of participation in the FA Cup, then he’s also not played any part in these pointless England friendlies, that he’ll be ok for Sunday. But I think we have to cross everything on Sunday.

The only other bit of news that I thought I’d touch on this morning is the announcement that Antony Taylor is going to referee the game against City at the Etihad on Sunday. I’m not going to suggest that Taylor is going to be biased and question his unprofessionalism, because I don’t think he’d deliberately go out to favour one team over another, but the fact he is from Greater Manchester and lives about 25 minutes away from Manchester doesn’t exactly look good on the optics. What also doesn’t help is Jarrod Gillett on VAR, who ruled out Havertz’s goal that wasn’t given against Villa late last year and against Man United at the Emirates he overturned the Wan Bissaka trip on Havertz right at the beginning of the season. Both were frustrating and although he’s a crap referee, they are ones that you’d probably say could go either way. They just don’t seem to have gone our way in those two instances, although for balance he was also in charge for the 5-0 win over Burnley in February, so as long as we smash Man City by that amount then we shouldn’t need to worry about any refereeing influence…

Of course I’m being flippant and kidding a bit, but let’s hope the pair of them have an uneventful game because the last thing you want to see on Sunday is a match that is decided because an official from Manchester or a Liverpool-supporting VAR guy decides he wants to make a name for himself.

Anyway, I’ll leave it there for today and see you all tomorrow. Have a good’un.