Avoiding the International (leg) Breaks

I'd be interested to know if English Arsenal supporters were happier with the fact that England had qualified for the World cup or that fingers crossed, the Arsenal players have come back unscathed. Seems ludicrous doesn't it but I'd wager that it would be pretty tight.

We've been through it a little today though or at least I have. Mesut Özil had to leave the pitch with half an hour to spare yesterday due to some sort of knee problem, it had Arsenal fans fretting whilst fans of other clubs on Twitter were celebrating, especially those lot from down the road. Luckily it appears as if the German playmaker supreme was taken off as a precaution rather than something nasty. Mr Engine Aaron Ramsey powered through yet another 90 minutes for Wales, his engine didn't seem like slowing down anytime soon as he ran a full 60 yards to get on the end of Craig Bellamy's pass to score the equaliser with only minutes to spare.

Giroud and Koscielny also came through their game for France without getting crocked. Wojciech Szczesny had a very good game for Poland against England and it is great to see his form continue. Hopefully this is growth and not just form because since the Villa defeat, our number one has been excellent for us, a display like that for his country will do him the world of good. Jack Wilshere only managed the last 8 minutes of the same game and I think that is just what Wilshere needed not just because of his on the pitch efforts but also the headlines off the pitch.

Wilshere himself will no doubt feel otherwise, he is the type of guy who wants to play every minute of every game and you get the feeling he takes even more pride when he plays for his country but given his fitness, he needs to be managed so I think Roy Hodgson would have done Arsenal, Arsene and Wilshere a favour in the long run. If he can hop on the same route that Aaron Ramsey took last season then he will regain his England place way before he walks across the sunny beaches in Brazil.

Özil and Cazorla to finally light up Ashburton Grove?

Part of the frustration when it seemed that Özil may have picked up a more serious knock was because Arsenal fans have been patiently (or not so in my case) waiting for our two creative maestros to finally get the chance to play together. Cazorla picked up his injury during the last round of 'fun' international matches, the same time when we managed to signed the German. Santi has yet to return but should be set to play against Norwich City this weekend.

In some ways it has been overlooked that our best player of last season in most peoples books has missed the last seven matches. Seven fixtures that have produced six wins and one draw. Even more impressive when you consider the fact that our top scorer of last season Theo Walcott has also missed the last five. Both players could well be in the starting line up come 3pm on Saturday.

I think we've only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our attacking play. Napoli at home was a lovely taster and I am sure there is more to come. I watched the Fulham away match recently because I really enjoyed the way we played that day and it struck me just how good Santi is. He just doesn't lose the ball, his quick dribbles in the tightest of situations almost seem impossible at times. Opposition managers will not want to allow Cazorla time on the ball but how do you not give time to both Cazorla and Özil when they are switching positions? Mouth watering stuff. I expect Mesut to drift to the left more so when Cazorla returns and now we've got our goal scoring speedy balance on the right. I just hope it looks as good on the pitch as it does on paper. It may not click as we'd like on Saturday as we could have a few players who haven't played for a few weeks on top of players who are coming back from games with their countries. We are often not as sharp post internationals so I am trying to not get too excited about the quality of our football this weekend, getting the three points is far more important then we can sharpen up before the Dortmund game in midweek.

Managing the upcoming fixtures

Last night I posted the team that I would start this weekend. Many think I have lost the plot. Here have a look and I will explain why I think this team would make sense.



Firstly, I got plenty of 'Where the hell is Ramsey? glad you are not the manager'

To be honest I am pretty glad that I am not the manager also, I'd be a complete thicko to think I'd do a better job than the manager, although I wouldn't mind his salary. Aaron Ramsey is the form midfielder in the Premier League this season, his performances have outshone the most expensive midfielder in Premier League history thus far. The thing is, Rambo played 120 minutes for Wales over the break and the only time he was substituted this season was our last game at West Brom when he picked up a second half knock. Ramsey isn't a half hearted player, he sprints around the pitch from start to finish and we have a cluster of matches soon which are very big and difficult games. The fixtures over November and December are especially tough so I imagine Arsene will want to have his key players as fit as possible for those fixtures.

An argument might be that we have the league cup tie coming up against Chelsea so he can rest for that but you do not pick and choose when you get injured and yes it can happen at any time but it is more likely when you've tried to squeeze in too many minutes in a short period of time. During the same international break, Jack Wilshere has played only 18 minutes over the same period. If your maths is as bad as mine then that is 102 minutes less than Aaron Ramsey.

Arsene and the coaching staff have all the equipment that check for fatigue and I am sure all the players will be checked before the manager makes his decision, if Aaron looks fine and dandy then maybe he will play but I am not sure we need to take that chance at home.

The other selection that had people up in arms was the exclusion of Mathieu Flamini for Mikel Arteta. Flamini has been impressive this season, his pointy and shouty style is exactly what fans love to see. The trouble is, pointing and shouting doesn't break down teams who are known for sitting behind the ball and playing negative football, which Norwich like to do. Especially away from home.

What can aid us to break down teams like Norwich are players who move the ball quicker and more accurately between the lines. We need to feed the ball to Özil and Cazorla in tiny gaps as quickly as we can. Mikel Arteta is the better of the two at doing this so it would make sense to me if Arteta was chosen ahead of the Frenchman.

We still have a few days before the game so plenty can change. Arsene may shove my theories down my throat but hey, it's something we can talk about other than injuries during international week I guess.

'till the next time.

PS - Check out JR's piece on our striker sitiation called Striking Obstacles and Solutions