Monday, 9 November 2015

Arsenal Welcome The International Break

Let me just start by saying I'm never happy when Arsenal fail to beat Spurs, but as draws go against them I can take yesterday. Arsenal didn't play well and the first half performance in particular was nothing short of abysmal. I hoped for better after the break and to a degree the team delivered, but the exertions of the midweek trip to Bayern and the limited options due to injuries certainly had an effect on the team.

Like so many others I wasn't exactly over the moon when Kieran Gibbs was introduced as an attacking substitute, but it turned out to be the right move in the end. When he bundled the ball in at the far post to equalise I was ecstatic and Arsenal looked the most likely to win after that. The point wasn't the end of the world though and it keeps Arsenal right up there with City at the top of the table.

I usually dread an international break, but this one is almost welcome as it gives a few of the injured players a chance to recover before the team play again. There's every chance Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could all be set to return in Arsenal's next game away to West Brom on Saturday November 21st. At the moment I'd take one of them even, but the more the better for the sake of the team.

The attacking players available have had to play virtually every minute of every game for too long now and they need those injured players to come back. There's some big games coming up and the team needs to have as many options as possible available if they're going to continue to challenge in the league and try to keep their Champions League hopes alive. As it is some of the players look like they are struggling, but the options on the bench just aren't there and they have had to struggle on.

Of course the international break has been unkind to Arsenal far too often in the past and we can only hope all of the players come back fit and ready to go. Alexis Sanchez was in flying form when the players went back to their respective countries last month, but we haven't seen the same player since his return. His dynamism has been sorely missed in the last few games as he struggled in all aspects of his game.

The one player who seems to have been unaffected by being asked to play time after time is Mesut Ozil. He set a Premier League record by getting an assist for the sixth game in a row on Sunday and he's also set the record for the quickest to get 10 assists in a season. He still has his doubters which include many of the so called experts, but he just keeps doing it week in and week out.

That game against West Brom in 12 days is the first of four league games which Arsenal are more than capable of winning and hopefully they can have the players available to do so. At the same time City have some seemingly tougher games and Arsenal could get the chance to overtake them at the top of the table. Nothing can be taken for granted in football though, but Arsenal certainly have what it takes to win those next four games.

It does look like the boss is prioritising the league this season and the strongest team has been played in every league game while the Champions League side has been tinkered with regularly. I don't think there will be too much tinkering in the final group game if Arsenal's hopes are still alive going to Olympiacos next month. Their task won't be easy against a team who have won every game they have played this season with the exception of the loss at home to Bayern Munich. It certainly promises to be a busy and interesting time for the team and hopefully a successful one too.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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