Stars to watch on international duty

Best of the Blogs - Arsenal Mania
Best of the Blogs - Arsenal Mania

 By Josh Challies

Arsenal enter the November international break in good form, six games undefeated in the Premier League, so the loss of action may be a concern to some fans.

However, with the injury issues, this break has come at a good time. The two-week break means a number of the Gunners' injured contingent can continue their recovery without pressure, with returns imminent after the international period.

Meanwhile, in-form Arsenal stars will go away with their nations and look to continue their form. For some it’s a chance to impress, while others will be looking to keep consistency ahead of a crucial end to the year.

Here, I take a look at five Gunners that we should be keeping close tabs on during the international break.

Best of the Blogs

This first appeared on Arsenal Mania in November

Arsenal Mania

With Theo Walcott set to return from injury, Olivier Giroud faces competition again for a first-team spot. In Walcott’s absence, Giroud has done well, becoming our leading goalscorer, but consistency is key.

After a frustrating performance against Tottenham, the international break gives him the chance to find his way again. Crucially, it’s also the chance to become France's main striker with Karim Benzema absent.

Alexis entered the last international break firing on all cylinders, after a hat-trick against Leicester City, and returned in a similar vein of form; scoring a brace against Manchester United. It was clear Arsenal had a world-class talent.

However, since then Alexis has dipped out of form a bit. Frustrated in the 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, the Chilean also struggled to get going properly in the draw against Tottenham. His spot in the team isn’t in doubt, but Arsenal need him back in top form immediately.

Joel Campbell has had his best few weeks in an Arsenal shirt, although truthfully there wasn’t much to compete with. The Costa Rica international proved himself, with some admirable performances that included netting his first goal against Swansea City.

With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Aaron Ramsey all returning soon, Campbell is likely to see his first-team chances decrease again. However, those players all need time to find full fitness and Campbell can use this to his advantage.

A decent performance on the international stage could provide a boost for Campbell, in a crucial weekend that sees the Gunners face West Brom whilst title-rivals Manchester City clash with Liverpool.

A few weeks back we’d have expected Petr Cech to have broken the all-time Premier League clean sheets record but it hasn’t worked out that way. Despite conceding just nine all season in the league, Cech has just one clean sheet in the past five games in all competitions.

That run includes conceding three against Sheffield Wednesday and five against Bayern Munich, which is never good. However, all the goals that Arsenal have conceded in that run of fixtures have not been Cech’s fault - which is good.

A break for Cech away on international duty could be exactly what he needs. With the Czech Republic qualified for Euro 2016, these friendlies will give him game-time in a comfortable environment- before a crucial run of games with the club.

Santi Cazorla was far from his usual self in the north London derby, with Arsene Wenger revealing an issue with dizziness after the game, and without their Spanish maestro the Gunners midfield never quite got going.

Cazorla is an integral part of our squad and at his best he’s one of the finest in the league. Now he has the chance to find some consistency, before returning to continue an impressive partnership with Francis Coquelin.

Santi Cazorla

Santi Cazorla

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