Good morning to you all and welcome to 2022! I hope it brings better times than the year we’ve said goodbye to. Let it be a year when Covid fizzles out somewhat and infections and deaths are nowhere near the numbers they are today. We can but hope.

The transfer window is officially open now and Mikel Arteta expects the club to be active:

We are expecting some activity because of a few players, and we have a few loans that hopefully we will have to complete. But it depends, as we all know it’s a very complicated market, and it’s a short window, so we’ll see what happens.

Covid 19 has struck Mikel Arteta for a second time so he’ll not be on the sideline today. Even so, we live in a digital world so his plans for today’s game will have been got through to the players and whoever stands in for him. Mikel Arteta will be watching on just like many of us will be, through the cameras of BT Sport. Whilst stomping around his living room no doubt.

So, the best team in England, perhaps even Europe, take on Arsenal at lunchtime today. Can we beat Man City? Of course we can but I’m not expecting us to do so.

Back in August, when Arsenal travelled to The Etihad, we got thumped good and proper. 12 minutes in and we’re already 2-0 down. By half-time, it was 3-0 and to make matters worse, Granit Xhaka has been shown a straight red card for a naughty challenge on Joao Cancelo. Playing City is hard enough with eleven so with ten, it was not great surprise to concede three goals after Xhaka had walked the walk of shame. 5-0 by the end, 20% possession and just one shot on goal and even that was off target.

But, Arsenal looked a different team back then, literally. Covid and injuries made sure of that.

Out of the team has gone: Bernd Leno, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac and Rob Holding, although the latter was back in the team last weekend for the fixture against Norwich and I suspect he’ll play again today.

Gabriel Martinelli, Alex Lacazette, Aaron Ramsdale were on the bench back in August, whereas now they are first choice. Gabriel and Ben White weren’t even available and neither was Takehiro Tomiyasu. How things have changed eh.

Takehiro Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares and Callum Chambers are all ruled out through Covid but Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sambi Lokonga could be back in the squad. Mo Elneny, Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe are still available to play but Aubameyang has already joined his international teammates in preparation for the ACON.

As said, I don’t expect us to beat Man City today but I do expect to see a very different performance to the one we saw back in August. Keeping eleven players on the pitch would be a good place to start!

We all need to see Arsenal get at City, show that we’re a team which can match the best and not just beat the rest. It’ll be a tough challenge but if we’re tough, disciplined and competitive, we can get something out of this game.

Happy New Year to you all and thank you for the last 365 days of commitment you’ve shown to Highbury House because without you, it wouldn’t work.

Here’s to 2022 being a great year for you and your families. 🥂🥂

A great year for Arsenal too..

See you in the comments.