“At the top level, one of the keys is to switch on and off when it is required,” said Arsène Wenger.
“The quality needed after a long break is to turn on again in a very quick, fast and efficient way.
“We have been on a strong run and, even if we drew at West Brom, it was a difficult game. So it’s important to have a continuity in our results and you only know how well your team is capable of focusing after a break like this.”
When you think about it, the ability to instantly ‘domesticate’ a side has become one of the crucial attributes in elite football management.
There is an opportunity now that we want to catch. But you can only do that if you just think about the next game and put your effort in.
What with international breaks and Champions League trips, the top teams have to “return to Premier League action” as many as eight or nine times a season.
There is always the danger of soft points being dropped if your mental focus is left in some corner of a foreign field.
That hard-fought draw at The Hawthorns meant Arsenal went into the international interval top of the Premier League, albeit by the slender margin of “goals scored”.
It is churlish to knock the highest-placed team of the 92 but some have tried with stats. In like-for-like fixtures last season Arsenal garnered a greater tally and their total so far this term is fewer than the norm for the leaders after seven games.
But who cares? Top is just fine thank you very much and another opportunity arises over the next week or so.
Arsenal entertain Norwich on Saturday and visit Crystal Palace next weekend, both of whom are in the relegation places. In between Wenger’s men could make it three wins out of three in Champions League Group F when Borussia Dortmund visit Emirates.
Wenger has kept a tight lid on the expectations until now. But if, next Saturday afternoon, his side are top of the pile with nine games gone and have one foot in the last 16 in Europe, then optimism must start seeping out.
But the manager knows there are seemingly stiffer challenges in November and the immediate chance must be seized.
“Yes, there is an opportunity now that we want to catch,” he said. “But you can only do that if you just think about the next game and put your effort in. Our season will depend on the capability to do that.”
Arsenal are unbeaten in six Premier League games and have scored in their last 12 – both are ‘bests’ in the division.
Norwich boss Chris Hughton spend significantly in the summer on the likes of Leroy Fer, Javier Garrido, Gary Hooper, Martin Olsson, Nathan Redmond, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Johan Elmander but the side has not yet gelled.
Every team who is ‘a favourite’ is on their toes these days because they know every game is a potential danger.
They are third from bottom with two wins all season and have failed to score in seven of their last 11 away trips.
However, their last road-game did yield a crucial 1-0 win at Stoke and they were holding Chelsea at 1-1 last time out until five minutes from the whistle.
“Norwich are much more dangerous than last season because they have Elmander and Van Wolfswinkel,” said Wenger.
“Also they are technically very good in the centre.
“They showed that against Chelsea in the last game and it is always a potentially dangerous game to play Norwich because they are a team with a good dynamic.
“The pressure is on us is to be 100 per cent focused, to get the win and to start strong again.
“Every team who is ‘a favourite’ is on their toes these days because they know every game is a potential danger.”
Arsenal should have Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla available in tandem for the first time. However the Spaniard may not start as his last game was the North London derby on September 1.
Bacary Sagna’s hamstring faced a test late on Friday but he was expected to feature.
Arsenal: Sanogo (back), Walcott (abdominal), Podolski (hamstring), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Diaby (knee)
Norwich: Pilkington (doubt – hamstring), E Bennett (knee)