Arsenal enter Carrow Road on the back of a convincing 3:0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League. With a victory over Norwich City we would leap-frog Leicester City and Manchester United who played out a 1-1 draw on Saturday, and we could even leap-frog leaders Manchester City if we beat The Canaries by a five-goal margin. Our priority is a victory though as we haven’t won for two league games in a row and this is supposed to be the easiest run of fixtures this season.
Norwich have been going through a difficult campaign to stay out of the relegation zone. They haven’t had too much luck with transfers so they will have to do something in January to bolster their squad, especially in the defence as they have conceded a whopping 24 goals so far.
Nathan Redmond is a player they will have to keep though. The 21-year-old winger has had a fine campaign so far scoring four goals (via Squawka.com) which usually spells trouble for a club of Norwich’s stature as bigger clubs are always out to poach emerging home-grown players. The good thing is, it’s Nacho Monreal that will have the task to keep Redmond quiet. Our best defender this season is yet to put a foot wrong and should be able to handle Redmond.
Robbie Brady is another player who can create a mess with his perfect left-footed crosses.
It’s difficult to predict which Norwich will turn up today – one that almost had a point in their pocket against Manchester City before Yaya Toure’s late penalty or the one that shipped six against Steve McLaren’s Newcastle.
Theo Walcott is still out which means Olivier Giroud will have to lead our attack once more. The Frenchman looked a bit jaded against Dinamo Zagreb and it’s no wonder given that he has played seven games in a row for Arsenal in all competitions since 24th October.
We’ll have to prepare for life without Francis Coquelin. The French defensive midfielder will be out for three months which is a huge blow, especially given that it’s not very likely that Arsene Wenger will spend money to sign a proper replacement in January. Norwich will represent a good test for Mathieu Flamini.
Arsene Wenger can count on Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain again which is a real relief given the injury crisis we have been going through…Again.
Petr Čech is certain to start again.
Hector Bellerin should repeat his performance against Dinamo and provide width for our attack while keeping the extremely dangerous Robbie Brady at bay.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny will have to clear all crosses Brady and Redmond send in the box while keeping an eye on Russell Martin at set-pieces.
Nacho Monreal should pick up where he left off against Dinamo.
Mathieu Flamini’s task is huge but Santi Cazorla will have to work even harder defensively than he used to with Coquelin next to him.
Mesut Özil has been brilliant this season and if Jamie Vardy’s goal is a certainty every week, Özil’s assists are too. It’s interesting to point out Özil has scored a brace only once at Arsenal – against Norwich in 4:1 victory at the Emirates in 2013-14.
Aaron Ramsey is likely to take his place on the right wing again. The Welshman scored a lovely volley in the last match between the sides on Carrow Road in May 2014.
Alexis Sánchez was a doubt due to a (hopefully) minor hamstring problem but he should be ready to shred the hosts’ defence to pieces.
Olivier Giroud is our top scorer in the league with seven goals to his name and there is no need why he shouldn’t score another one today.
I will go with a 2:0 victory for Arsenal. It will be a tough game but goals from Giroud and Ramsey will hand us three points.