From an Arsenal perspective it's back to the business of the Premier League and a trip to West Brom on Saturday afternoon. Arsenal looked tired in their last game when they drew 1-1 at home to Spurs and I hoped the two weeks would give a few of the injured players a chance to return to the fold. Looking at the latest news it seems my hopes have not come to fruition with only Hector Bellerin being added to the squad from the draw with Spurs.
I imagine Bellerin will come back into the team with Mathieu Debuchey dropping to the bench again. Debuchey improved as he got more game time and showed he still has plenty to offer given the chance. It looks like he might want out in January though as he wants a place in the French squad next summer and he won't get that from the bench at Arsenal.
I had hoped to see Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott make their returns, but it seems I was a little prior. Arsene Wenger has said Ramsey and Chamberlain should be available on Monday which would mean they can line up in the must win game at home to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night if called on. Walcott won't be back for another couple of weeks though which means Olivier Guroud will continue to lead the line.
The team will be almost the same as it was against Spurs so with so few options available to the boss. We had to rely on Kieran Gibbs coming off the bench to rescue a point against Spurs and hopefully things will go a little better today. It's quite possible Gibbs will get the nod ahead of Joel Campbell which would be a real blow for Campbell and show how far down he is in the pecking order.
My real concern with the team would be the lack of attacking options on the bench. Until a few of the injured players return we will have to rely on the players who play today and hope for no more injuries.
With the season almost a third over Arsenal are only behind the league leaders on goal difference and they need to take every point they can. The next four league games are ones they should win and they need to push home any advantage they can get over City by doing just that. The two Champions League games thrown in between them will make things more difficult for them, but there is no reason why they cannot take those 12 points.
They start away to West Brom and it's a game which looks like a tough task on the surface. West Brom have done well defensively so far this season, but their best defensive performances have all come away from home. They have actually lost four of their six home games and have conceded more goals at home than any other team so far. West Brom have also lost every game in which they have conceded a goal while until their last game Arsenal had won every game in which they scored.
In contrast to West Brom's home form Arsenal have the best away record in the Premier League. They have won five of their six away games and their only loss came when the referee completely and utterly cocked up their game at Chelsea. They are the top scorers away from home too and they have to be favourites to take all three points in this game.
They have a chance to steal a march on City who don't play until later in the evening. If Arsenal can take the three points they will go to the top of the table before City have a tricky game at home to Liverpool. They missed the chance to move ahead of City when they drew with Spurs, but I don't expect them to miss this chance.
I have no doubt West Brom will set up to defend and try to hit Arsenal on the break, but I think Arsenal have the means to break them down. Mesut Ozil has been in such great form recently that he's become almost unstoppable. He's the outstanding player in the Premier League for me at the moment despite his doubters and Arsenal's fate will probably depend on how many of the chances he creates that they can put away. Even with the players they have missing there's plenty of goals in the team and I can see Arsenal scoring two or three.
It promises to be a very busy few weeks for the team and they need to get off to a flyer tomorrow. If they can do that I can see them beating Norwich, Sunderland and Villa too as well as Zagreb this Tuesday night. That would probably leave them with a trip to Olympiacos knowing they need to win by two goals to progress to the Champions League knockout stages. Is it too much to ask for six wins in a row in six games where Arsenal are the better team and just need to go out and prove it.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.