Morning all.

When an Arsenal team comes back from The Etihad with just a point and, judging by the internet, people are moaning, it tells me one thing. Arsenal FC is in a really good place.

This time last season, we were battered 4-1, this year we didn’t let them score one, let alone four. As said yesterday, one has to go back three years to find the last occasion City didn’t score at home. Mikel Arteta hasn’t finished yet either, in fact I’d go as to suggest he’s only just getting started. He still has a raft of players who aren’t being called upon during a match day which tells me, a few of them are  not going to be around much longer.

The days of sentiment are over I think. Pre Arteta, we had players in the squad on massive wages. They weren’t performing whether they were in the first team or on the bench and some of them wouldn’t make it into a Sheffield Utd team yet at Arsenal they stayed just because they could. Now though, Arsenal don’t have any bad players, just a handful who I think aren’t trusted to perform at the level Mikel Arteta strives for. If I’m right, what’s the point in keeping them? What’s the point in them staying too when they could be playing football at a different club where their qualities can be put to good use.

If you were Mikel Arteta, and I thought long and hard about this, would you heavily rotate the players tonight against Luton when we’re in such a good position in the league with just nine games to go? I’ve seen a few of Luton’s matches recently and they are quite capable of causing an upset if we’re not careful.

Mikel Arteta on his memories of the win at Luton in December:

Especially how tough it was to win, and how difficult they have made it for every team. Big compliments to Rob and the coaching staff; what they have done as a club is an amazing journey. I think they deserve more credit than any other team in this league. How they have done it and what they transmit as a team and what they generate, it is going to be a really tough match tomorrow. It was really emotional and the way we celebrated tells you the difficulty of the match and how much we had to fight for the points so we know what we’re facing tomorrow.

Personally, I’d rather see a strong starting eleven, with perhaps just a couple of changes, try and get the result secured and then use the substitutes. That’s football though, easy to make suggestions from the outside but the reality is, none of us know what state of mind the ‘squad players’ are in. If they’re not ticking the right boxes in training, they won’t get minutes.


Alternative options to the eleven which started against City are: Thomas Partey, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Reiss Nelson, Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro Trossard, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Eddie Nketiah, ESR, Fabio Vieira, Mo Elneny and Cedric Soares. They are all fit and raring to go. By the sounds of it, Jurrien Timber isn’t far from a return either as Mikel Arteta confirmed during his press conference yesterday. I can’t remember the last time when in April, we didn’t have a raft of injuries.

As for Luton, well they have injuries galore which is rotten for them. Manager Rob Edwards said in his pre match press conference:

We’re likely to have 11, 12 or 13 players out, We’ll probably have four teenagers on the bench – maybe more.

I’d love to see Luton avoid relegation but of course, not enough for them to get a precious point or more tonight. After tonight, I hope Lord and Lady Luck are on their side for the remainder of the season.

Arsenal’s tactician Adrian Clarke, writing in the official matchday programme:

In recent weeks the Hatters have settled on a 3-4-2-1 formation with wing-backs pushing forward. Out of possession this becomes a 5-4-1, with the central midfield especially crowded. Luton can play good passing football on the deck, but they are usually direct in their approach. Edwards’ side make more long passes (60.4 per game) and won more duels than any other top-flight side, with powerful centre-forward Carlton Morris the regular target. We are the only top-flight team to have scored more headed goals (16) than the Hatters (14).

Their wing-backs supply plenty of this ammunition. Luton have whipped more crosses into the opposition penalty box from open play than any other Premier League side, and they’ve scored 14 goals from dead ball situations, with Doughty’s pacy left-footed deliveries in open play and from set-pieces particularly devilish. While scoring goals isn’t an issue, two clean sheets from 29 matches tell their own story, Defending set plays has been an issue, with 14 conceded in this manner, and they’ve struggled with quickly constructed counter-attacks due to a lack of pace in their back three.

So, it’s the master of set-pieces up against a side who doesn’t cope well when defending them but when it comes to their own, they can cause opponents problems. They caused us problems last year for sure but Arsenal conceding 3 goals in a match is a rarity this year. If Luton come to play football, I think it’ll be their undoing but I suspect we’ll see a lower than low block from them. No one could blame them either. In fact after Sunday’s performance, it’d be hypocritical to criticise such an approach.

This is one of those games which Arsenal are expected to win and win handsomely but I very much doubt Mikel Arteta is allowing his players to think that way. The three points on offer are as important, probably more important than any other points on offer this season because we’re into the last leg. 9 games to go, 27 points on offer and we need all of them..

Catch up in the comments.