The countdown commences and yesterday it was the opportunity for both managers to take to their respective press rooms to respond to questions from the press. As usual Arteta didn’t really give up much on the team news and approach, but you wouldn’t really ecpect him to because:

  1. He hasn’t done that all season anyway.
  2. The team news is a basically fully fit squad to select from.

Even Jurrien Timber has an outside chance of being involved in the matchday squad, which will be a nice bonus but I doubt we’ll see him too much. He’s been in training quite a while but he’s only played one under-21s game and so to expect him to be able to be available for a match with the intensity of this game, feels a little ambitious I think. I’ve seen some people suggest that he might get on because he has to play a part in the remaining games to get a medal for the club for this season, but I doubt Arteta thinks like that much. He is a man with such intensity and focus and ruthlessness that giving a guy minutes just to make sure he might get a medal feels like tempting fate on the one hand, but also smells of a sentimentality that he doesn’t have. Just look at the Ramsdale situation, he loved KT when he arrived and Gabby Jesus “changed our world” and yet he is being reduced in terms of his game time. Arteta picks his side based on the best available and fit players and I think it’ll be a surprise if we see Timber tomorrow.

On the Scum, he gave his customary platitudes and talking up how amazing they have been, like he does with every team and you kind of understand that given Arteta is a man who likes to use things like Ivan Toney tweets to motivate and ‘gee up’ his players. Arteta will be very keen to ensure that no quarter is given to any opponent, least of all The Scum, so there was plenty of nice things to say. Postecoglu did the same in his press conference to be fair, so there was little to take from the press conference other than team news as updates. The Scum have a couple of injuries, but they all have a rested team which I think equalizes any potential disadvantage they might have by having a perceived drop in quality by not being able to play their first choice XI tomorrow afternoon.

On the fatigue thing, Arteta was transmitting some pretty good energy on the preparedness of his team, which I loved. He said that there has been some time to rest, the team is prepared and they will be good to go on Sunday. We’ve had four full days of training and prep so far and whilst there will still no doubt be some tired muscles in that squad given the recent schedule, I’ve always thought Arteta is good at avoiding excuse making. He knows that is the manager is saying things like “we are tired” then it could potentially transmit to his players and so when I hear comments like he made yesterday in the presser, it definitely does give me hope that we will not get a leggy Arsenal, but one with steely determination and a single-mindedness to go there and get all three points.

It’s somewhat scary that of the three possible outcomes of tomorrow’s game, only one really gives us any hope of winning the Premier League. Man City WILL beat Forest tomorrow and that will put them two clear with a game in hand. A draw puts them one ahead with a game in hand which basically means they can afford to lose one and still retain the title. So for Arsenal it really is win or bust and going away to a ground where we have won once in ten year’s in the league really hits home just how difficult this game is going to be. There are zero margins for error, zero mistakes that can be made and I even saw this stat which suggests we’re going to have to be pretty special to win tomorrow:

I suspect that might happen again tomorrow and that means Arsenal need at least two, probably three goals tomorrow, which again underlines the difficulty of this task. But this Arsenal team has gone to Manchester City and kept a clean sheet. We’ve had more shut outs than any team and despite a little wobble a couple of weeks back, we’ve had two clean sheets in a row in the league, so that gives some cause for optimism.

And that’s what we all need to be doing today and right up to the lead up to the game, channeling that optimism to those Arsenal players, because they deserve a heck of a lot of credit for getting us in to this position. I am still slightly scarred by the Christmas defeats, but the fact that I thought our chances were over at that stage and the run that this team has gone on since then, really has to be applauded. They have been imperious – Villa and Bayern aside – and regardless of what happens in the next couple of weeks, when we get to the end of the season I am going to work hard to remind myself just how impressive we have been at times.

One of the things which I thought was interesting, as a final point before I wrap up for today, was when Arteta was talking about Postecoglu and their style of play. He said that it was very clear how they would play and I wonder if that makes it Easier for Arteta to work out our tactical approach tomorrow, than say, against Villa? We know Emery is a tinkerman and he will change things based on the opposition, but The Scum will play how they have played all season (bit more on their approach tomorrow I think) and I wonder if Arteta and his coaching staff find that easier to work out what they are going to do as a result? It doesn’t always mean success and it doesn’t mean that you’re going get the desired outcome, but when Arteta talks about preparation in the physical sense, I wonder if in the tactical side as well he is happy because they have studied tomorrow’s opponents and know what they are going to get?

Hopefully they know exactly what approach we’re up against and hopefully they have a master plan for it. We shall see tomorrow.

Catch you then.