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Praveen’s latest “The Arsenal Annals” column.
With only a few hours left until the end of current international break, Arsenal supporters are hoping to see their personnel return in the pink of their health.
Their fear is definitely justifiable, as many first teamers have often returned to London Colney carrying an injury sustained during the international break in the past.
In the recent times, the Gunners have greatly benefitted from the international breaks, with Arsenal’s late resurgence that helped them leapfrog local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League standings last season coming off one such break from club football action in March.
After securing just two wins in nine games prior to the break, Arsene Wenger’s men bounced back, going on a nine-game unbeaten streak that included two 4-0 victories and a win at Goodison Park.
International breaks can either help teams reinvigorate themselves or kill the momentum they have already built, and with the Londoners currently enjoying a purple patch of form – they are undefeated in nine games and have drawn just two games – the 13 days’ lack of action may prove a kryptonite to their momentum.
Although no injury has been reported so far, the injury scare that Hector Bellerin carries may prove crucial, especially with Carl Jenkinson and Mathieu Debuchy nowhere near the match fitness required to figure in league games.
An injury to the Spaniard can curtail Arsenal’s chances of going one better than last season when they finished runners-up as he has established a perfect chemistry with his colleagues both in defence as well as in the final third.
However, he is not the only Arsenal player to be on the cusp of sustaining an injury.
With Chile, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and England all playing rather intense games ahead of their respective FIFA World Cup 2018 campaigns, most of Arsenal’s first-teamers will be heavily involved, rendering them prone to fatigue-related injuries, especially with the club playing two games each week until the next international break.
Having said that, the Arsenal manager can be hopeful of averting what may seem inevitable as they have rather easy games to look forward to after the break and until the end of October; they play host to Swansea City, Ludogorets, Middlesbrough, and Reading across three competitions before travelling to Stadium of Lights for the final game of the month.
Observers tip them to win all five games, given their current form and the exquisite brand of football they are playing since Alexis Sanchez’s transformation into a centre forward, but the N5 club should hope to avoid a dip at all costs, as October holds a significant importance in their title bid.
With fellow-title contenders in Manchester City facing more difficult oppositions such as Everton, Barcelona, Southampton, and Manchester United in the same span of time, producing results against the minnows can be crucial in Arsenal’s attempts to bring about the English top-flight title’s Emirates Stadium debut.
Arsenal currently sit third in the table, two points adrift of the first-placed Citizens and can definitely look to reach the pinnacle of the table in the coming weeks in the event of the international break acting in their favour.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
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