The break has been long. As the weekend draws near and Arsenal fans can finally look forward to watching their team in action once again after a painfully extended set of World Cup qualifiers, the wait will have to carry on. Until Monday. Yay.
This period without Premier League football has felt even more draining as a result of the club’s failure to qualify for Europe this season. International breaks tend to drag. The absence of midweek action extends that.
Brighton feels like an age ago. In the hideous English rain with swirling wind, the impressive Seagulls pressed Arsenal to death and can count themselves lucky to leave with only a point.
And, despite the exceedingly lacklustre performance from Mikel Arteta’s side, the longing for the next fixture remains as strong as ever.
Arsenal upcoming fixture list: Predictions and expected points from five crucial Premier League and EFL Cup matches for Mikel Arteta’s side
What will be of the coming set of games until the next international break – yes, the final two World Cup qualifying matches commence after matchweek 11 on November 7 – is what fans are starting to consider as Arsenal face an inviting set of fixtures to keep climbing up the Premier League table.
Something to feed the excitement is how prolific Arteta’s men have been across the globe. There have been goals for Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Nuno Tavares, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Thomas Partey and others, who have all got on the scoresheet.
Does that mean Arsenal are going to romp their way to a streak of victories? Well, no. But it does boost confidence across the team and who knows what could come.
The fact is, however, that nobody knows what will come. Educated guesses can be made, and while predicting what may happen at home to Watford in five games’ time is worth a crack, that opinion could change prior to facing Crystal Palace, may well change at half-time and will almost definitely change at the full-time whistle.
So, what could come of this crucial set of matches?
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace – Premier League
The return of Paddy.
Use legend at your peril. Don’t call Arteta one, for example. But do, in every single circumstance, bow to the feet of one of the club’s all-time greatest players and one of the best the Premier League has and will ever see.
He isn’t doing too badly as a manager, either.
Pre-season predictions universally had Palace to struggle. Roy Hodgson left, there were an unbelievable amount of players out of contract and the situation looked tough. Yet, some superb and exciting business in the transfer market picked that up, so too with the assumed arrival of one of Lucien Favre or Nuno Espirito Santo.
The mantle eventually fell to Patrick Vieira, who despite recording just one win from his opening seven matches, has drastically improved the way Palace are organised and added some central threat with the capture of Conor Gallagher. They’re looking like a team in learning, but one picking up pointers fast.
There are only two matches in the season where Arsenal fans want the Eagles to lose. This is one of them.
And as poor as the Brighton display was, on home soil on Monday night with the additional rest from internationals helping tired legs, Arteta’s side should see this one out.
Score prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Palace
Match prediction: Vieira chants to go from minute 1-90