Good morning. A quick Saturday round-up for you, after Mikel Arteta’s press conference yesterday.

He was in pretty good spirits, all things considered. And there are so many things. He acknowledged that the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ in his start as Arsenal manager might be over but then the pressure he puts on himself to produce results is ever-present, so it’s not as if he was sitting around with his feet up.

All the same, there’s a need to produce this weekend against Leeds, and he’s had time to process what happened in our last Premier League game:

When I lose a football game, it takes me a week to go through it. So I need another game to go again. When we lose it the way we lost against Villa, it’s even harder because it makes me think about things in the past that I hated and I don’t want to see again.

There are a lot of things to change and improve, me first and it’s going to be a bumpy road. I said that on the first day. The optimism that I have and the belief I have in where we’re going to get, how lucky I feel with the people I have around me to support what we are trying to do is great.

I guess the key thing that stands out for me there is him saying there are ‘a lot of things to change and improve’, because after his midweek comments about not ripping things up, people have worried a little that it’ll just be more of the same. It can’t be, I think Arteta knows that, his coaching staff know that, the players and fans know it.

What it won’t be though is something completely revolutionary. For this weekend he has to pick a team after a gruelling international break for some of our most important players, without others because of injury (Thomas Partey sadly hasn’t recovered sufficiently to be available), others again because of Covid-19, and this might be a side selected with fresh legs in mind as much as anything else.

He also backed a return for the five subs rule. With EFL clubs now allowing the two extra substitutes, it seems mad that the Premier League is basically the only outlier now. If EFL clubs are recognising the particular demands on players this season, because of the lack of a real pre-season and a hectic schedule, it seems mad to me that there’s a hold out at the top level – especially when you consider that many Premier League players also have to contend with European competition and internationals.

I don’t really think objections based on the advantage it would give the biggest clubs really stand up to that much scrutiny, and at the core of this is player protection, something which has basically gone out the window this season. It’s always been an issue the game has paid lip-service to. You hear talk all the time of how player welfare is crucial, yet literally nothing is done about it. In fact, with the extra games added to the international breaks during this campaign, they’ve actively made it worse.

Arteta says:

We need the players. We have to protect them as much as possible. They are the protagonists of this whole industry and whatever you can do, if you have to modify the rules and make them a little bit more flexible for them to give them a better opportunity to be fit – and it’s not just physically, I mean mentally as well – then let’s just do it, please.

Allowing two extra subs is a tiny consideration when you look at the workload, the fixture schedule, and how much football there is to play between now and the end of the season. Not forgetting that – all going well – there’s Euro 2020 (in 2021) to be played too, so many players won’t get any kind of break at all. This is such a no-brainer, just make it happen already.

As expected, Arteta kept a pretty tight lid on some other stuff which came out over the Interlull. He said he’s had a conversation with Willian about his daft trip to Dubai, but wouldn’t be drawn on it or the potential consequences, as well as playing down the training ground bust-up between David Luiz and Dani Ceballos. However, as I suspected, he was a bit more exercised about the fact that information got out, and his response when asked about that was quite tetchy:

I don’t like that at all and I will find out where it’s coming from. If that’s the case, it goes against what I expect from each other, the privacy and the confidentiality that we need.

There will be consequences.

Hmmm, better call in the dream-team of Philip Marlowe, Inspector Morse, Kurt Wallander , Elvis Cole and Amaury Bischoff PI for this one, I reckon. Who, with connections to the training ground, might be inclined to let slip information to an intrepid reporter, perhaps with a sense of grievance or holding a grudge of some kind. Let’s hope those detectives can unearth all the clues and find the source before it’s too late.

Right, a couple of things before I leave you with yesterday’s Arsecast. Over on Patreon we have a couple of new podcasts for you. First up, a new series of match preview pods, I’m joined by Lewis Ambrose to look ahead to Leeds on Sunday, how they play, what we have to contend with and more. Then James and I have an episode of Waffle, the podcast in which we talk about anything and everything except Arsenal.

You can sign up at patreon.com/arseblog for just €5 per month to get instant access to that and all the other content there, as well as supporting all the stuff we do here at Arseblog.

Finally, I just wanted to remind people of the #arsebiz stuff. There are loads of Arsenal related businesses in the replies, and we are hoping to collate them all into a classifieds website soon, but if this applies to you as a business owner, please feel free to get involved.

Ok, I’ll leave you with yesterday’s Arsecast, lots of Leeds chat, player chat, and more. All the links you need to listen/subscribe are below. Have a great Saturday. Back tomorrow with a full preview of the the trip to Elland Road, and more.

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