Halloween occurs on Saturday, when Arsenal face Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
The Gunners lost to the Welsh outfit twice last season and head back to the Liberty Stadium in much finer form than they were in for their visit 11 months ago. However, a midweek loss to Sheffield Wednesday rocked the mood and the injuries have started to pile up.
What are the chances of Arsène Wenger’s men coming away with all three points for the fifth consecutive Premier League game?
It’s not great. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was set for a run in the side following Aaron Ramsey’s injury but lasted just five minutes at Hillsborough before coming off with a bad hamstring.
His replacement, Theo Walcott, lasted around 15 minutes but his calf has robbed Arsenal of him for the next few weeks. With Ramsey already joining Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky on the sidelines, Wenger has a tough decision to make on the right.
The manager confirmed on Thursday that Joel Campbell or Alex Iwobi will come into the side.
Per Mertesacker played against Wednesday on Tuesday and is fine again after missing last weekend’s defeat of Everton, Wenger will have to choose between him and Gabriel. Olivier Giroud will start up front with Walcott out.
So will it be Iwobi or Campbell on the right? The Nigerian is more of an unknown quantity but also has far less experience, so the boss may look to Campbell as a slightly safer option.
Possible XI: Čech; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Campbell, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Garry Monk wasn’t short on praise for the Gunners.
“They have had a fantastic start to the season,” said the Swansea City manager. “They have an excellent squad full of world-class talent and they are definite title contenders.”
That doesn’t mean he’s given up already, though. Swansea have already beaten Manchester United this campaign and drew with Chelsea on the opening day. On top of that, they won both games they played against Arsenal last season.
In eight Premier League meetings, Swansea have won four and only failed to score twice.
“We know that when we are at our best we can give anyone a game in this league and we’ll need to be at that level on Saturday. If we do that we are in with a chance of getting the result we want.”
After five games without a win, the Swans saw off Aston Villa last weekend thanks to goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and André Ayew.
The Frenchman has impressed since joining from Olympique Marseille in the summer, already scoring five times in the Premier League. He’s the man to watch, along with tricky winger Jefferson Montero. He caused the Gunners countless issues last season and is incredibly hard to defend on his day.
Monk has a full strength squad to choose from again this weekend, so former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski will definitely start.
Possible XI: Fabianksi; Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Shelvey; Ayew, Sigurdsson, Montero; Gomis.
Arsenal are level on points with Manchester City heading into the weekend, and would very much like to keep the pressure on. Four wins in a row have been incredibly well deserved while the team has been stable, but coping with injuries is another test that comes in a long season.
Swansea definitely have it in them to provoke a scare – we’ve seen that enough times already – but a strong result and performance, and a fifth win in a row, would be a perfect way to show we’re in this race for the long run.