I know it’s a little “Captain Hindsight” with what I’m about to say, but just as I got to my seat in the North Bank to settle in to a rotated Arsenal side take on a depleted and injury-hit Luton Town, I said to Nick and Lee – the gents around me – that I felt it was going to be a game in which we would probably drop a “2-0 before halftime and then manage the situation out”.

It probably wasn’t a particularly difficult one to call to be honest; Luton are towards the bottom of the league, they’ve got their selection of injury problems, they were turning up to The Emirates knowing it’d be one heck of a mountain to climb, plus you have the added element of Arsenal having had a tough away trip to Manchester and an Arteta starting XI that screamed “we know exactly what is in front of us for the next month”.

I also kind of get it with putting minutes in to the legs of some of those players who, frankly, have barely played. The season is now at crunch time and if you’re going to chuck Thomas Partey in for his first start since god knows when, why aren’t you going to do it at home to a relegation-threatened side, as opposed to a Brighton away. So I kind of understood and I think pre kick off most of us were up for a little rotation.

I must admit to being slightly surprised that Arteta went as heavy with the rotation that he did, but given how the match panned out you have to say he’s struck up gold once again. In came Zinchenko, Partey, Smith Rowe, Trossard and Nelson, with Saka not even getting in to the match day XI. Inevitably the worries were there as to how bad his knock was against City, but Arteta admitted before the game in his press conference that he was fine, so hopefully at the weekend away to Brighton he’s back in and he’s had a full week of rest to prep for what is sure to be a much sterner test than what Luton offered us.

I’m not truth this game was a bit of an exhibition-style match; Arsenal had all the ball, Luton tried to remain compact and not give too much away, but as soon as Havertz slide-ruled the ball to Odegaard to control-slice the ball home on 24 minutes, this always felt like it would be a case of how many goals Arsenal wanted to put past the Hatters. Perhaps it was an element of just wanting to play within ourselves and not get too embroiled in a difficult evening, or perhaps it was just a case of a rotated Arsenal side looking a little disjointed at times (I noted a few Gabriel misplaced passes in the first half, as an example), but it felt like Arsenal were in second or third gear and in truth I feel like we never got out of it.

So when Reiss Nelson contributed towards the bundled goal for number two just in the stroke of halftime, this game felt done and dusted before the halftime Camden’s were sunk.

And that’s pretty much how the second half felt. Luton tried to press a little higher, they tried to up the intensity somewhat, but it never really felt believable. The one delicious thing about this Arsenal side is that it has the ability to snuff out potential fight-backs so much better than last season. Up until this point in the season we’ve been pretty imperious and whilst I still harbour doubts about us winning the title purely on our remaining difficulty with regards to the fixtures (and because I’m a natural pessimist when it comes to The Arsenal), this back line has proven this season just how miserly it is with regards to giving up chances. The xG for this game for Luton was 0.27 and they had just the one attempt on goal for the entirety of the game. This Arsenal team have so far been stingy as you like when it comes to giving opponents the opportunity to score.

And if this was Liverpool, City, Chelsea or Man United with a back line like this, I’d probably be saying that is the sort of stuff you recognise from title winning sides in the past.

But I daren’t, I can’t, I simply won’t allow myself to think about that. There are too many scars that I bare from 20 years of Premier League campaigns since we last won the title.

Instead I remain steadfast in my happiness that we continue to be a side in the mix. We continue to be a young side growing and improving. And we continue to be a team in the conversation. The talk is about Liverpool, City and their relentlessness. Let it continue. Let it continue until the last few weeks of the season wherein I pray that from somewhere they drop some points and it gives this team an opening to nick ahead right at the death.

I have everything crossed.

Some final thoughts on individual performances.

I thought Trossard looked really lovely throughout. I live his ‘low-centre-of-gravity’ approach and he twisted and swivelled and danced his way past Luton defenders all night.

Emile Smith Rowe was never going to last the 90 given his game time and he inevitably tired in the second half, but 84 minutes will have done him the world of good, as would the ‘assist’ for the Nelson goal that turned out to be an OG. I thought he had a really good first half in particular and the reception he got from those in the stadium was heartwarming.

Partey got a solid two-thirds of a game and that too is excellent. He’s back in the fold and we need him.

So all-in-all it was a perfect case of “good day at the office” for The Arsenal. This felt like the perfect three pointer for a midweek and enabled Mikel to give some fringe players the minutes they need to be able to make an impact in the coming weeks.

Hopefully it augurs well for the rest of the season and certainly the difficult month we all know we have ahead of us.

And on that note I’ll call time on today’s ramblings. Enjoy your Thursday and I’ll catch you wonderful humans all tomorrow.