Has international break come at the best time for Arsenal?

Theo Walcott Warming Up

Arsenal currently sit top of the Premier League as we head into the second international break of the season.

Arsene Wenger’s side have been in fine form so far this term, going unbeaten in all competitions since their 3-1 open day defeat to Aston Villa. The Gunners’ 1-1 draw with West Brom on Sunday sees them return to the top of the table ahead of Liverpool on equal points and goal difference but with a superior number of goals scored.

Ordinarily, when a team is in good form, winning games, and keeping that momentum going, an international break is seldom welcome for the manager or the fans – the club loses their best players to their national teams and who knows what could happen whilst they’re away on duty.

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It’s basically considered a distraction from club football by club managers often times – between the injuries and the split-focus that is part and parcel of international breaks, club managers are sometimes having their best players returned in less than optimum shape (in terms of fitness levels) and sometimes less than optimum form and morale (if they suffer a poor game or result with their counties).

However, that being said, I think Arsene Wenger might be slightly more welcoming of the international break this time around, given that he’s awaiting the return of six first-team players from injury.

Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, and Bacary Sagna, especially, would ordinarily have been called up to play for England, Spain, Germany and France over the next fortnight, respectively, meanwhile Arsenal’s current available players look to be suffering a bit from fatigue which may have been a big factor in Sunday’s draw at West Brom.

The likes of Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Flamini, Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have played a lot of games and minutes so far this season and the injuries to the aforementioned stars has left Wenger will little room for maneuver in terms of rotating and or resting of his first team.

However, by the time club football resumes on October 19th in the Premier League followed by the Champions League on October 22nd and the League Cup Forth Round on October 29th, Arsenal will likely have Sagna, Cazorla, and Sanogo back with Walcott, Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain all just a couple of weeks away from returning. Abou Diaby has several months (probably five or six) left to go on his nine-month injury sentence.

Of course, the boss will be keeping his fingers crossed that the players who are included in their national squads (Wilshere, Mertesacker and Ozil for Germany, Wojceich Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski for Poland, Koscielny and Giroud for France, Nacho Monreal for Spain, and Ramsey for Wales) all make it through the break unscathed and return in one piece.

Overall, what would normally be considered a distraction, a nuisance and worry for Arsene Wenger, especially given the Gunners’ fine form of late and positioning in the league, is probably a well-timed and much-needed break from club football for his first team players that buys his crocked stars a bit more time to come back.

Arsenal will be looking at playing games against Norwich and Borussia Dortmund at home with Cazorla and Sanogo back available, then away at Crystal Palace in the league and a home Chelsea in the cup, with Walcott available.

They will likely have Lukas Podolski back from his hamstring injury in November when they’ll face clashes with Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund away, Manchester United away and Marseille at home. Overall, I think the international break couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

image: © wonker

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