Morning all. Games are certainly coming thick and fast right now.
I have a few opinion pieces in the drafts, but there just isn’t the time or space to post them.
With two games every seven days, by the time we discuss the game ahead, have a match report and discuss the last game, it only leaves us with a one blog a week that is not about a game.
I am not complaining. Lots of football makes it easy to decide what we blog about.
We are not ones to write a blog for the sake of it, or to join the transfer speculation train. So when we have so many games, at least we have natural, consistent, regular content.
The opinion pieces will probably stay in the drafts until the World Cup.
So 13 wins from 14 games as Mikel Arteta’s Big Red and White Machine roles on.
The run means Arteta now has the best win ratio of any permanent Arsenal manager, and justifies the board sticking by him when the going got tough 12 months ago.
The game against PSV taught us a few things.
The first is that we need some extra strength in depth out wide – one of the draft blogs outlines some options.
Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have been fantastic this season, but they can not be expected to keep going.
With Emile Smith Rowe out injured, it leaves us with Marquinhos, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah.
Marquinhos is still young and will run hot and cold. We should not really expect too much from him and he should be, at best, the 4th choice wide man.
The club have been publicly positive about Nelson in recent weeks. I think this is an attempt to build his confidence in the hope he might get his career back on track. But every time we have seen him this season he has looked below the standard required.
As for Nketiah, he showed against PSV that he is ineffectual out wide.
If Arteta has Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus in the same team, it surely has to be the Brazilian out wide and Englishman in the middle.
Don’t be surprised to see us recruit a winger on January to freshen us up.
We also learned that Albert Sambi Lokonga is no Thomas Partey – but then who is?
I still question whether Lokonga is a deep lying, defensive midfielder or whether he would be better suited playing further forward.
With Mohamed Elneny out injured, we do not really have another option for when we want to rest Partey, so Lokonga will have to play there.
He is playing solid, if unexceptional.
Lokonga can certainly do a job there against weaker sides, but I doubt he has it in him to become long term competition for Partey i the future.
We still need to sign cover for Partey and that will allow Lokonga to play in a more advanced position.
So Southampton away today.
Like Leeds United, these little away games are always tricky, especially after a European tie.
I can’t see Manchester City losing any of their 4 league games between now and the World Cup, so to stay ahead of them going into the break we need to keep winning.
We have that tricky trip to Chelsea on the horizon, so can not really afford to drop points against Southampton, Nottingham Forest or Wolves if we want to go into the WC top.
I feel if we are top of the league, momentum will keep us there. But if Man City overtake us, they could run away with it.
We are the only team to win away to Leeds and Brentford this season, so we can go into today’s game confident of our away form.