While the international break is needed in the long run (trust me, you'd be annoyed if there was no Euro 2012 next summer!) it's always nice to get back to normal. If that's what you can call supporting Swansea City.
This Saturday sees another 'glamour tie', where the Swans will take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. It's highly anticipated as both teams have a similar brand of football: fast and entertaining, with wonderful passing abilities, but sometimes struggle with the end product!
Ashley Williams and Neil Taylor return from international duty to join new defenders Darnel Situ, Rafik Halliche and Fede Bessone, though at the time of writing only Bessone was cleared to play - the club are still waiting on Situ and Halliche. With Rangel and Caulker also fit and ready there is finally a little competition in the back line, with all four spots theoretically up for grabs (though I can't see Bessone starting ahead of Rangel or Taylor). Garry Monk is still struggling with his foot injury, so it's unlikely he'll feature.
Mark Gower has spoken of his hopes of finally pushing for a place in the starting line-up, though probably won't be first on the list. Personally I'd use the Britton, Routledge and Agustien combo once again. It's been working at home: goal scoring opportunities have been created, and Agustien and Britton add defensive security.
Starting Stephen Dobbie instead of Routledge may also be an idea - his confidence doesn't seem to be that high currently, so a start may give him a boost. Then again, decisions should be for the best of the team, not the best of the individual. He needs to use the times he is subbed on as a platform to show how capable he is. So far in the Premier League he hasn't been able to show that.
As usual Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer are vital for creating chances on goal so they're in. That leaves the starting striker. Is it time for Lita? Many would argue no, and I may agree this time. Danny Graham should start, though if he fails to get a goal his confidence may take a further knock. Despite Arsenal going through a low, they will be harder to break down than the likes of Wigan and Sunderland, so any chances that are created must be put away!
Onto the opposition: the Gunners have recently hit a low point, with the 8-2 demolition by Man United surely rock-bottom.
The main area they've struggled with recently appears to have been transfers; both bringing players in and letting them slip, most notably Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Samir Nasri to Man City. However, they managed to rejuvenate the squad on transfer deadline day with German international Per Mertesacker and Brazil international Andres Santos - both add to a back four that were seriously lacking against Man United, and, with Bacary Sagna expected to be back from illness, Arsenal's defence is looking a lot healthier.
Arsene Wenger also added Mikel Arteta from Everton and Chelsea's Yossi Benayoun to the midfield, and with Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie in the squad it won't be a simple task by any means. Luckily for the Swans the likes of Gervinho and Alex Song will miss the match, both still serving bans from recent red cards, while Jack Wilshire is out with an ankle injury.
My prediction is 2-1 to Arsenal (odds currently around 7/1). I see Swansea getting their first goal, though can see an exciting Arsenal attack finding a way past the defence and Vorm.
Ultimately it's Arsenal's game to lose. Swansea aren't expected to win (with 9/1 odds confirming this), so, with less pressure than the games against Wigan and Sunderland, maybe we'll see a goal? A loss isn't ideal for Swansea (obviously), though a draw would be seen as a wonderful success. Either way, with both teams out to play attractive football, it's bound to be an entertaining game!
Read more of my thoughts on the Arsenal match here – an interview carried out by an Arsenal blogger (towards the bottom of the page). Interesting reading about the opposition too!