So, it’s that boring time again: the international break. Woohoo. Not.
Time to interrupt another fascinating Premier League season so England can thrash the Faeroe Islands or similar, thereby launching another disappointing campaign scheduled to end roughly next time they play a remotely big team in a remotely important game.
In this new series of posts, I’d like to completely ignore international football and instead recap how things have been going for Arsenal over the past few weeks.
Well things have been pretty good, with the team combining its usual slick football with an unusual ruthless edge and great results. Despite the obvious positives – consistent wins and the destruction of Chelsea in particular – the best thing right now for me is the squad depth.
Big players like Coquelin, Ramsey and Giroud are still sidelined, yet not missed. Thanks to a delayed but wise recruitment campaign, the level of competition for places has raised everyone’s game. Theo Walcott’s rebirth and tremendous work rate off the ball symbolises this change of attitude to perfection.
The not so good
Although the team ended on a high, the timing of this international break is unfortunate as it interrupts a positive dynamic.
Hopefully all players off on duty return fit, including Alexis Sanchez who’s once more gone off half way round the world to get his legs chopped by crazy south American defenders. Touch wood he comes back in one piece.
The game which counted
No, not Chelsea. Definitely Burnley away. A terrible match during which most of Arsenal’s brightest stars went missing, won outside added time by a grim and totally unfair handballed goal which should’ve never been disallowed.
We would’ve drawn or lost this fixture 3 years ago, most likely on the receiving end of a similarly shit goal. Winning ugly doesn’t make for entertaining afternoons, but it can come handy at the end of the season. Get in, handy?
The standout player
That’s hard. The front three have been absolutely outstanding, defending from the front and finding the net consistently. Both Sanchez and Walcott are strong contenders. Koscielny has been as reliable as usual, while Xhaka has been so good he made Coquelin’s injury look convenient.
For me though, Mustafi already looks a find and at last a deserving partner for Kos at the back. A star in the making.
The big question
How does Aaron Ramsey, one of best midfielders at the Euros only a few weeks ago, come back into this team? A lovely dilemma.
Mark the team
8/10. October offers a pretty straightforward run of fixtures for a team of Arsenal’s standing. Long may this continue!