Happy Friday! And Happy NLD Eve.
This will be my last blog of the week. There will be no Saturday morning blog.
A 12:30KO means the pubs are opening at 10am. So I will be looking to get down to Caledonian Road early doors for a bit of breakfast at The Breakout before getting my first pint down me neck at 10.
Ahead of the big game, Arsenal are in the midst of a mini-injury crisis.
Mohamed Elneny has been joined in the treatment room long term by Emile Smith Rowe (I will write again on his future next week).
Mikel Arteta is also sweating over the fitness of Thomas Partey, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Cedric Soares has also picked up a knock whilst Reiss Nelson will not be fit to start.
This will lead to some questions why we always have so many injured. By the stats and facts do not show that.
Last season, only Crystal Palace had players out injured for less days and games than Arsenal.
Our problem was not that we sufferred too many injuries, it was that we did not have adequete cover when key players were out.
That was changed over the summer with the recruitment of the likes of Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira, as well as the new 1-year extension for Mohamed Elneny.
We are just unlucky that we have our 2 left backs out injured, our 2 defensive midfielders and our two right-backs.
The future of 3 players (Partey, Smith Rowe, Tierney) does need to be looked at, but that is a blog for another day.
My bet is of the 8 out, Tierney and Partey will start. That will mean bar the right back, we will have our strongest XI out.
White Saliba Gabriel Tierney
Saka Odergaard Xhaka Martinelli
White has played well at right back this season, so I have no real concerns of him continuing there.
Another quiet positive of that XI is how little action they saw over the international break.
White, Gabriel, Martinelli and Jesus have been training at London Colney for the last two weeks, whilst Partey and Ramsdale did not see a minute of game time.
Of the 5 that played for their country, Xhaka was the only one to play 180 minutes.
Tierney’s last game would have been a 7 days prior to the NLD, Saliba 6 days. whilst Saka has only played 24 minutes in the last 8 days.
So tomorrow we do not have an excuse.
The injury crisis has not really hit the first team, and we should not be suffering from international break fatigue. 3 points is the minimum requirement.
As we discussed earlier in the week, the big duel will be Partey v Kane.
Enjoy the day (as best you can) and we will be back Sunday with a (hopefully positive) match report.
As far as i am concerned that is best x1 anyway. I expect the bench to be
Turner, Tomiyasu, Holding, Zinchenko, Sambi, Smith, Marquinhos, Nketiah, Nwaneri or Nelson.