The international break is over which means that the Premier League and Arsenal return to our weekend plans at last. This week’s fixture sees the Gunners come up against Swansea City.
It’s been a testing two weeks for football fans, because although there should be no prouder moment than seeing your nation walk out for an international fixture, these days anything bar the major international tournaments just seem to get in the way of a busy and competitive club schedule. It’s game week eight of the Premier League and Arsenal find themselves on a five match winning streak. It was a tough test away to Burnley in the club’s last Premier League fixture two weeks ago, with a late goal grabbing all three points for the Gunners in a 1-0 win. Our gameplay and effectiveness didn’t seem to be on the same level that it was when we beat Chelsea a week earlier, but many are hoping that that grinding performance was just a blip. Now that the Premier League returns, the players have had a few days back in club training to prepare for this round of fixtures, and the question is, are the players focused back on domestic football?
It doesn’t come as a surprise to know that many players struggle with transferring training methods, practices and exercises from their international duties to their club team. The time taken to travel, the different styles of play and the quality of a player’s teammates all have an effect on a player’s game. In the past when we’ve have seen numerous Gunners return from the international break with an injury, it has caused a strain on the team because not only are we a first team player or two short, but the rest of the team also has to adapt and refocus their attention to the desires of their team. Usually for this reason the first week back can be a little challenging, but Arsene Wenger seems to believe that his time are in good stead to continue their winning run of form.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s next match against Swansea City, Wenger said: “Maybe the quality of a Premier League team is to be capable of refocusing quickly after international games. That’s what is at stake for us — to show that, despite the interruption, we can restart at the same level we had before.
“Although, if I look at the results after international breaks, it’s not negative. What is important is to move up to the next level and continue to improve. The quicker we refocus on our targets, the more chance we have to achieve that.”
Since the international breaks of 2013-14, Arsenal are only beaten by Chelsea for the number of points picked up from matches immediately after the international period. This bodes well for Arsenal, especially as Manchester United and Liverpool come face to face this weekend, whilst Manchester City are against a growing Everton side. Arsenal’s game against Swansea looks relatively easy on paper considering the Swans sit down the lower end of the table, however we all know that Swansea can often be Arsenal’s ‘bogey team’ and we mustn’t go into the game lacking any focus. Arsenal need to be prepared for this match just as they would for any other and whilst it may be difficult for some players to adapt back to club ways so soon after spending time away with their national teammates, it’s vital that we keep up the same level of consistency that we witnessed before the Gunners split up for the international break.