Arsenal are strong favourites going into the match against the Canaries this weekend and will no doubt want to avenge their 1-0 loss in the reverse fixture back in October. Oxlade-Chamberlain has spoken of Arsenal’s new found confidence, a trait which has been key to the Gunners strong form of late in the Premier League.
A big factor that may weigh into the upcoming match is the likely absence of Tomas Rosicky, who has been instrumental in Arsenal’s recent strong performances. Wenger has revealed the Czech picked up a hamstring injury in last weeks win against Swansea, but luckily it doesn’t seem to be overly serious.
Another player who joins Rosicky on the sidelines is big German Per Mertesacker who received a red-card with his last man challenge last weekend. His absence means that captain Thomas Vermaelen is certain to reprise his role in the center of defence with Frenchman Laurent Koscielny. The two have never really flourished as a pair and it will be interesting to see how they hold up given their similarities in defensive style.
Looking on the more positive side, Wenger also revealed that both English duo Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are again available for selection this weekend, but whether they start from the outset is a different story. I am inclined to think that Wenger would not unnecessarily risk Wilshere’s health and prefer to bring Cazorla back into the middle from out wide and give Podolski a start out wide on the left.
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Another tough decision will be that of Walcott. The Englishman’s form has cooled since his contract extension was signed, while in contrast Gervinho has begun to look menacing in recent weeks. I am reluctant to think Arsene will change Arsenal’s current winning formula and think we will be seeing Gervinho in the starting line-up with Walcott getting a run later in the match.
To put things in perspective Norwich have only won one in the last fifteen league games, while Arsenal have jointly taken the most points from their last six league games. It should be no contest, particularly when you take Arsenal’s recent form into account.
on Wilshere and Walcott…
Jack has joined normal training since Wednesday and Theo should join in tomorrow. They are 90 per cent available for Saturday.
on other team news…
The other uncertainty we have from last Saturday is Tomas Rosicky, who has a little hamstring irritation. His involvement is yet to be decided as well but it’s fair to say that he is a big doubt for Saturday. And of course, Per Mertesacker will be out because of his red card.
Sagna Koscienly Vermaelen (c) Monreal
- Arsene Wenger’s side have also won all four of their last matches in all competitions and should they overcome Norwich and Everton they will leapfrog up to third.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in four Barclays Premier League home meetings with the Canaries (W2 D2), averaging four goals per game over the last three.
- Norwich won 4-2 at Highbury in their first ever Premier League game in August 1992; since then, only four other away teams have netted four times in a league game against the Gunners and no side has netted more.
- Grant Holt is one to watch for the visiting side as has scored in both of his last two meetings against the Gunners.
- The Emirates has seen more goals (59) than any other Premier League ground this term.
- Only league leaders Manchester United have taken as many points from their last six Premier League games as Arsenal (both 15).
- Norwich City are without a win in seven away league games (D2 L5).
- Overall, Chris Hughton’s side have won only one of their last 15 league games (D7 L7).
Arsenal 2 Norwich 0