Morning all.

In the words of Jeorge Bird over at Arsenal Youth, “were it not for the exploits of Arsenal goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo, who made some fantastic saves in the second half”, the Arsenal under 23’s would have been beaten by a much greater score line  than the 2-0 defeat they suffered.

So who is Arthur Okonkwo?

Not much is written about our young keeper other than he was born in London in September 2001. He’s a mighty 6’ 4” tall and he’s represented England for the under whatever age he was at the time. Lol

But more important than that, he’s an Arsenal player and has been described on the official site as being a tall and modern keeper which I guess means he’s confident playing out from the back. He’s already been training with the first team and I think he’s been on the bench this season too. I’d love to see the team have an Englishman back between the sticks one day. Just maybe, in a few years time I will.

Another talking point from last night’s match was the absence of Folarin Balogun. Is he injured, off, or set to be part of the squad to face Man City. Was he the office with Mikel Arteta and Edu signing his autograph at the bottom of a new contract? I’d like to think it was both of the latter two. Why not get him on the bench tomorrow afternoon and give him thirty minutes against the best team in England.

Man City come to The Emirates tomorrow in excellent form. Unless they have a massive meltdown, they’re likely to win the league again this season. Good, I’d much rather they did than the likes of Liverpool, Utd or Chelsea. Inevitably, Pep Guardiola has been asked about Arsenal and his chum Mikel Arteta ahead of the game:

“Over the last month or two they’ve played better than the opponent in every game. As a manager you want the results you deserve, sometimes it doesn’t happen. But in the games they are always better, controlling, creating chances and conceding few. We’ll need to play as good as possible with the ball and run a lot. They have exceptional build up, the quality and energy.

I have to agree, Arsenal have often been the better team, even during the first half of the season when a victory was so hard to find. All we lacked was goals which had our frontmen been in better form, would have got. It was the same story on Thursday. When a teams main strikers aren’t scoring goals, missing sitters along the way, how can the manager really  be blamed? If Aubameyang was converting his chances at a similar ratio to last season, we wouldn’t be 10th in the League that’s for sure.

Pep was quick to remove himself from any credit Mikel might be getting for his work so far at Arsenal.

“I didn’t inspire him. I know absolutely that I wasn’t any influence, he takes all the credit with his staff. I learned off him and we worked together. I listen a lot to my assistants, most of the time we take decisions together. I don’t know the influence – he has to answer. I worked really well with him and now he’s doing it for himself.”

It’s only natural for one human being to have an influence on another as we go through life. The important thing is to remember the good and discard the bad and I’m sure that’s no different in football. Mikel Arteta would have taken and stored things in his mind throughout his footballing life regardless of who his manager/coaches were. Even David Moyes. I say that slightly tongue in cheek but his West Ham team are doing pretty well this season. Mikel Arteta, despite what Pep says, will have learned an awful lot from his time at Man City and I’m quietly confident that our manager is inspired by, and to be as good as his fellow countryman one day.

Life in management/coaching has always been easier for Pep though as wherever he’s been, he’s had huge financial support so building his own squad pretty much happened overnight. Or rather, one season’s worth of transfer windows. For Mikel Arteta, the building process has and will be much slower but even so, the squad already looks different to the one he inherited just over a year ago.

I think we’d all agree that Arsenal are nowhere near City’s level on the pitch but even so, I’m looking forward to seeing the two clubs battle it out tomorrow. At least Pep’s team is unlikely to sit back and defend so we might get a few chances. Who knows, the way this season is going, we might even win.

See you in the comments.