So, that’s that!
The first international break of the season is behind us and focus can now turn to the return of the Premier League this weekend.
It looks, and I say this with my fingers firmly crossed, that Arsenal’s players have all escaped from the grips of their national teams unscathed and will be returning to London Colney injury free.
Many have already come back, while the three Brazilian’s are all set to make their way into London Colney today after their long trip back from South America.
Mikel Arteta will be delighted to have all of his players back as he prepares for Sunday’s trip to his former hunting ground, Goodison Park.
Much has been made of Arsenal’s recent record at Everton. It is, quite frankly, terrible.
They have lost four and drawn one of their last five games at Goodison. A run that is made even worse when you factor in just how bad Everton have been for the majority of that time.
And that should serve as a timely reminder ahead of Sunday’s game, given that Sean Dyche’s side have yet to pick up a league win this season.
It’s the start of a really busy few weeks for Arsenal, with the Champions League about to kick into gear.
And that will provide Arteta with something new to think about in terms of how he manages his squad over the course of the next month or so.
So far he has been able to go week by week and that has allowed him to stick pretty much to the same team, but that is no longer the case.
Arsenal play three games in seven days next week. They go to Everton on Sunday, host PSV on Wednesday night and then it’s the small matter of the north London Derby next weekend.
Keeping his players in good condition is going to be key to Arteta. He now needs to show he has proper trust in his squad.
Players like Emile Smith Rowe, Jorginho, Fabio Vieira, Reiss Nelson, Leandro Trossard should all have big parts to play as Arsenal start to compete on all fronts from this point forward.
“The first three or four weeks were always going to be tricky for all the clubs because it’s one game per week for a month,” Arteta said a fortnight ago, when quizzed on some of his players seeing little action over the opening weeks of the season.
“There are not minutes for everybody. September will be very different.”
It will be interesting to see if that is the case over the next few weeks.
One of the big criticisms of Arteta over the past couple of years is that he hasn’t really given certain squad players many opportunities to prove themselves.
Smith Rowe barely got a look in last season after returning from injury and that has continued over the opening four games of the current campaign.
You feel like that has to change now. Arteta needs to utilise his squad, to spread the minutes around and give certain players the chance to rest from time to time.
From what I’ve heard Smith Rowe has been working really hard to impress in training. He’s desperate to show he can make an impact in this team this season and it’s up to Arteta to give him the minutes he needs to stake a claim.
It is a balancing act of course and it will be very interesting to see how he manages his players’ game time going forward.
Right, that’s it for today.
If you haven’t listened to it yet, James Benge joined me for another edition of Inside Arsenal extra-time this week and we spent plenty of time looking ahead to Sunday’s game at Everton, while also discussing Nicolas Pepe’s exit, striker wish lists and more.
You can listen to it below.