Thursday, December 7, 2023

I’ve got snooze, babe

I hit the snooze on my alarm three times this morning. I don’t usually do this. I pretty much always get up as soon as my alarm goes off, because I fear the warm, dozy lure of snooze and the possibility of hitting ‘stop’ rather than kicking the sleepy can down the road for a few more minutes.

My snooze is 10 minutes. I find this much more pleasing than the old snooze you used to get on radio/alarm clocks (before phones), when it was 9 minutes. Who decided that? Was there a committee who came up with the idea that this was the optimal snooze period? It always felt so random to me. Why not just 10? It’s a good solid number. Not that I have anything against 9 in general, it just never made sense to me that alarm clock manufacturers would choose this and it would then become the norm for every alarm clock everywhere.

Was there a technological reason why it had to be a single digit number? That doesn’t make sense either. If your clock can sit there without setting off an alarm for hours at a time, why couldn’t it sit there for 10 minutes instead of 9? Anyway, I’ve had about 14 minutes more sleep than I would have, and the other 16 were somewhat awake wondering when the snooze was going to go off. Was it worth it? Yes, yes it was. Those 14 minutes will stand me in good stead today and help me be more productive and stuff. Possibly.

The Interlull is over. Martin Odegaard played the full 90 minutes as Norway lost 2-0 to the Netherlands, who have qualified for the World Cup. Belgium drew 1-1 with Wales to top their group, but Albert Sambi Lokonga was again an unused sub for them, so beyond the training etc, he’ll return relatively fresh from his international sojourn.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang didn’t play for Gabon in their game against Egypt, and there are conflicting reports of an injury. There’s some suggestion he picked up a knock in the last game, but also that he was simply left out of the squad because the game was essentially a dead rubber for Gabon. One of those where we will have to wait for more information from the manager or an update from the medical team, so let’s keep fingers crossed it’s nothing serious.

It’s still not 100% clear when players heading for AFCON will be leaving, although there’s a suggestion it will be after the round of fixtures on December 26th. That will see him (and the others) miss Premier League games against Wolves, Man City and a North London derby, while there’s an FA Cup third round tie, plus a potential two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final – which is very likely to be against decent opposition when you see the teams left in the competition.

Man City only have to contend with the departure of Riyad Mahrez while that down the road aren’t affected in any way by AFCON (although the sheer weight of being them is something they’ll always have to deal with). None of this will be a surprise to Mikel Arteta and his staff of course, no doubt he’s already thinking about how to deal without some key players, but it’s another challenge to overcome this season.

Looking forward now that we’re getting ready for the weekend, the next few weeks will provide a real test for this team. Sometimes the Premier League can throw you up a run of fixtures which, while testing, aren’t anywhere close to being the most difficult – and that’s what we’ve had in the last couple of months. Which isn’t to downplay what we’ve done at all, by the way. The results have been very good, and there have been elements of our performances which have been really encouraging, but three of these next four will be something of a yardstick for this side and its progress.

We’ll obviously talk more about the Mugsmashers in the days ahead, while Newcastle – even with a new manager bounce – is the kind of home game you expect Arsenal to take three points from. However, two tricky away trips to Man Utd and Everton in the space of a few days loom large on the horizon. As much as United are a bit of a basket case at the moment, they have such quality in depth that you can’t take anything for granted. That game takes place on a Thursday, we play the previous Saturday, they face Chelsea on the Sunday, so hopefully that’s a pretty intense game where they pick up a range of traumatic muscular injuries and some temporary paralysis to key players.

As much as I dislike Monday night football, at least it gives us a couple of extra days to recover for the visit to Everton. They haven’t been great, but a Rafa Benitez team is always a tough prospect. It’s hard to know what to expect from this run, but I do think there might be a bump in the road at some point, and while that will be disappointing for obvious reasons, it’ll be interesting to see how this team and this group of players react to a little set-back. That’s all to come.

For now, we’ll leave it there. If you’re looking for some midweek podcast action, join myself and James on Patreon later where we’ll have a new episode of Waffle in which we talk about anything and everything (as per suggestions from Patreon members) except Arsenal.

Till tomorrow.

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