Morning Gooners – happy Friday and all that jazz. Hopefully you’re looking forward to the weekend and the Arsenal on Sunday?

I do hate Sunday games in general. Saturday’s have always been the best time to play football and Sunday just feels like a long wait, feels like you have to hang around a bit, then you end up building more anticipation and worry because inevitably the teams around you have played before and already picked up their three pointers. But it is what it is and it’s important that we go up against Villa and get the three points on Sunday to keep ourselves in the running and at the top of the league.

Villa played last night and played out a narrow 2-1 win, which is fine by me because it keeps Unai pondering what to do with his squad rotation when it comes to Sunday. When he played City he rotated heavily because it was in between some crunch games, dropping Martinez and Watkins, not playing the captain McGinn, Playing Lenglet as a centre half instead of Pau Torres and resting Tielemans as well. Whether he will do the same on Sunday remains to be seen, but with the game last night so narrowly poised and with Emery known for a bit of tinkering as we know ourselves when it comes to this stage of the season and a team going for Champions League qualification, I have a hope that he embarks on another round of rotation against us knowing that he can’t afford to lose players ahead of the return leg against Lille away from home.

Of course he’ll probably go as strong as is humanly possible against us like Moyes seems to do even when he’s going for European football, but such is life. We can’t all get an easy ride like Villa gave City the other week.

As a quick aside on that though, it does probably say something about the sense of doom and the aura of this City team, to be fair, because Emery basically threw in the towel for that game. The more we become imperious and the more we make teams feel like they have no hope when they come to the Emirates, maybe we get situations like that game? The old adage of “it’s won in the tunnel” could very well be something that – if we can maintain our quality and performance levels over a number of years, it happens to us, perhaps?

Arteta will have his pre match press conference at some stage today and we’ll get an update on where the lads are at in terms of preparation for today. I wonder if he’ll be asked about Cesc’s words about the team and the impact of getting over the line could have? He has been quoted talking up an era of dominance if Arsenal can win the league this season, saying that the impact it will have on the whole club will be massive, saying “If they can manage to win the first one, I believe it could become a constant threat for Arsenal to be challenging for all the top titles.”

There is still a lot of acrimony amongst the fanbase about the way he left, as well as his behaviour towards the club in the final season, which I’ll admit does leave a bitter taste in my mouth a little bit. He was not a very good guy in terms of being disruptive, that I know having spoken to people who worked at the club at the time, but over time my slightly sour feeling towards him has diminished. I guess deep down I always knew he’d bugger off to Barcelona eventually and so when it happened it was a disappointment that I had come to expect, but nevertheless it still hurt. Particularly as I felt we undervalued him a little bit when he did eventually go.

But when you hear him talk about the club now, about how fondly he talks about Arsenal as a whole, then you read admittedly charm-offensive puff pieces like the one I have highlighted above, it does feel like he has an affection with us. And I bet he’d love nothing more than to see us lift that Premier League trophy this season. He was a good player for us for a number of years, we didn’t quite do enough to build around him, he never helped get us over the line to win any major trophies, so we move on. Such is life.

I’m still not ready to get on the hype train though. I still feel like our fixture list is a little too difficult for us to win all of our games and I feel like that’s what we might need to do to secure the title. If we had the Scum and United at home, then Everton and Bournemouth away, for example, I’d probably be feeling a lot more excited at the possibility. But those two away grounds have been a curse for us traditionally and I find it difficult to believe that we’re getting maximum points from both. So I’m keeping my glass a little half-empty for now to protect my own emotions from getting carried away. I dream of us going the next seven in the league unbeaten, but it just feels like a long stretch.

There’s not really a lot else going on at the moment so I might pause for now. We’ll start to get the drip feed of pre game information, pundits doing their own previews and alike today and tomorrow, so I’ll come back tomorrow and give you some post press conference thoughts as we build up to another massive game in the Premier League this weekend.

Catch you wonderful humans tomorrow.