Many football fans profess to find the in-season breaks to league action as boring, but Michael Lintorn sticks up for the international break by finding five domestic distractions that he hasn't missed...
"Even the majority of Aston Villa fans were probably pretty fed up with Aston Villa before this breather following a run of one draw and six defeats across seven games in which they scored just once."
Everybody criticises international breaks, but why wouldn't they when it is so easy to do so? There is little worth discussing football-wise besides your shock at how many celebrity fans Sheffield United possess, England apathy is at an all-time high and you spending the fortnight panicking about your team's star man being overworked and crocked by a careless national team boss.
However, there is at least one small blessing - the briefest of interludes from some of the Premier League's least enjoyable components. For instance, have you genuinely missed any of the following?
Chelsea's Premier League domination
Never has there been so much talk about a team completing a season unbeaten after just 11 games, especially one which finished third the season before. Chelsea have been great, only dropping points away to Man City and Man United, and are already eight points clear of the nearest of last season's top seven. It is consequently just 10.519/2 that they replicate Arsenal's invincible feat, so it has been nice to have a distraction from the potential monotony of the 2014/15 Premier League title race.
Hourly bulletins about Costa's hamstring
Even more irritating than the relentless-but-warranted Chelsea hype has been constant speculation regarding the state of Diego Costa's hamstrings. Every Premier League fixture has been built-up to with bland will-he-won't-he-be-fit fretting, and even the first two international breaks became Costa fitness-focussed as Jose Mourinho bemoaned Spain's poor care. Thankfully, he is sitting this one out, so over a week has passed since his ability to withstand 90 minutes of beastliness was questioned.
The Balotelli circus
Make the most of the privilege of being able to pick up a paper and turn to the back page without being greeted by a "Why always me?" headline variable. Mario Balotelli is back on Merseyside after his Italy recall and is expected to recover from a hamstring complaint in time to probably not score at Crystal Palace on Sunday. The tabloid favourite is yet to net a Premier League goal for the Reds in nine attempts and might not get as many opportunities too now that Daniel Sturridge is fit.
Pochettino speaking English
Daniel Levy is being criticised for countless reasons, like Tottenham's incoherent transfer strategy, Tottenham's incoherent managerial hiring strategy and Tottenham's incoherent performances. However, he isn't getting enough blame for his gravest crime: killing the best gimmick in English football - the manager who never addresses the press in English - by forcing Mauricio Pochettino to fulfil his media duties in his second language. As a result, the mystique that he developed so expertly at Southampton now fades with each dull press conference and post-match interview.
This is probably a little harsh, but even the majority of Aston Villa fans were probably pretty fed up with Aston Villa before this breather following a run of one draw and six defeats across seven games in which they scored just once, especially because three of those matches were televised. The respite is almost over though, with Paul Lambert's men chosen once again for the Monday Night Football spot when they "entertain" Southampton, in a contest that they are a massive 5.59/2 to win.