It’s that time of the season that we as football fans all hate, the international break.
And it’s not even the important break this time around where countries would usually compete for places in either a World Cup or their respected continental competition; but instead we must sit back and watch boring international friendlies, which honestly bore us as fans.
Whilst there are some big friendlies, such as Germany v England and Spain v Italy, and the South American nations are set for the second round of qualification games for the 2018 World Cup, this international break looks to have come at the worst of times for us European fans of the beautiful game.
For fans in England especially, this break has inconveniently put a halt on the weirdest yet most entertaining of title races we have ever seen. Leicester City still lead the Premier League by five points, and even more surprisingly, Tottenham Hotspur have a tight grasp of second place and have made a six point gap between second and third.
The team that occupy third place, Arsenal, were the favourites for the title after sitting atop the table for quite some time, but then the Gunners did a typical Arsenal thing, and bottled it.
Arsenal have only just won their first game in the league since Valentines Day, and they now lay 11 points behind the Foxes. But with an impressive win against Everton coming just before the international break, has it come as the wrong time for the Gunners?
Why the break has come at the perfect time
In many ways, the international break is a blessing in disguise for the Gunners. The cruel month of March is now behind Arsenal, and historically speaking, Arsenal usually end the season in emphatic form shortly after being knocked out of the Champions League.
For instance, last season Arsenal were easily the best team in the country going into the final two months of the season. The Gunners swept aside a inform Liverpool side 4-1 at home, the first game after the international break that year, and Arsenal secured third place in the league with four games to go. They also won the FA Cup for a second consecutive year, so that’s something.
The international break not only brings Arsenal important late season form, but it also brings rest to the players.
Danny Welbeck is already being rested for both of England’s international games after a mutual agreement between Arsene Wenger and Roy Hodgson, and Mesut Ozil could also be given the same instructions after the German playmaker missed training due to injury.
Petr Cech is also set to be back in the Arsenal team when the international break is over, and Santi Cazorla could also be back for the final games of the season after a five-month absence from the Arsenal squad.
The fixtures after the break
So, key players are returning, historically Arsenal have done well at this stage of the season, anything else they need to mount a surprising late title surge? Oh yeah, an easy fixture list.
When you look at the games from now until the end of the season, Arsenal have the easier games remaining for the teams in the top three, including a game in hand. The Gunners still have to travel to West Ham and Manchester City, however these are games that Arsenal could easily win.
Tottenham still have to play Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Southampton, and this is also the time of the season Spurs start to slip up. Whether or not they will this season though is another article for another day.
Leicester on the other hand are an unpredictable side to predict. Their hardest fixtures all lay in the month of May, however with how unpredictable this season has been, the Foxes could easily drop points in games they were predicted to win
Arsenal are not the favourite for the title this season anymore, but there is still just a glimmer of hope that come May, Arsenal fans will be grateful for this international break.