Morning all.

Arsenal players and staff will be wearing a black armband today, in memory of Head Groundsman, Steve Braddock, who after a long illness, has passed away. An Arsenal fan through and through, joined the club back in 1987 after being in the right place at the right time and during a conversation with George Graham, the Scotsman said he was looking for a new groundsman. The rest as they say, is history. I knew the turf at Highbury was considered to be one of the best back in its day so it was no surprise to read that Steve had won numerous Premier League Pitch of the Season awards, ‘Turf’s Top Influencer’ in 2019, and in 2020 he became only the second person in history to enter the Grounds Management Association’s Hall of Fame. ( I can only echo the message from Arsenal FC, my thoughts are with Steve’s wife, their daughters, and all family and friends.

I don’t know about you guys but when death hits someone younger than me, it makes me realise how precious life is and that we’re here for a good time rather than a long time.

New summer signing Marquinhos isn’t going out on loan as first thought. He’s staying with the first team which I personally feel quite pleased about. He looks like a strong lad who’ll cope with the physicality of the Premier League and the Europa League. He’s just been called up to the Brazil under 20 squad too. Having him, Fabio Vieira, ESR, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Kieran Tierney and Cedric Soares available will be a huge boost for team and Mikel Arteta. We’ve yet to see Mikel Arteta use all five of the substitutions he has available on a match day but now he has more options available, that might change.

On the 8th September, our Europa Cup campaign kicks off and the fixtures are going to come fast and furious, especially as there’s the World Cup as the League Cup to come into play before the festive fixtures. Rest, rotation, squad management is going to be more crucial than ever before, especially if we’re to better last season’s fifth place finish.

It’s only two games but so far so good. Only ourselves and Man City have maximum points which I know means little so early in the season but at least we’ve got a tricky away fixture against Patrick Vieira’s team out the way already, just another 18 away fixtures to go. Lol

Bournemouth will be a tough opponent I’m sure. Man City beat them 4-0 last weekend at The Etihad but on the opening day of the season, Scott Parker’s team beat Aston Villa 2-0 at The Vitality Stadium so they’ve clearly got something about them. Bournemouth’s stadium is a bit like Highbury. Small, fans close to the pitch, albeit not the 60 odd thousand other Premier League clubs can house but even so, it’ll probably sound like there is, after all, this is just their second home fixture since being promoted in May and fans will be full of optimism.

Mikel Arteta:

It will be a really tough match. I’ve been there many, many times, I know how tough it is, and I know to expect the atmosphere to be hectic. It’s a team that is used to winning because last year they had a really successful season, and they’ve started well this season. I know Scott Parker very, very well and I know they’re going to make it a really difficult game for us.

Two-and-a-half years have gone by since Mikel Arteta managed his first game at Arsenal and funny enough, that game was against tonight’s opponents and away from home. The game ended 1-1 but boy have things changed since then as just four players from the starting eleven that day are still at the club. Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Aaron Ramsdale was in goal for Bournemouth.

My money is on the same starting eleven as last week but a different scoreline to the 1-1 back in 2019.

Enjoy the game guys..