Carrow Road, Norwich
Saturday, October 20, 16:30 p.m. GMT
The last time Norwich City defeated Arsenal at home, eight of Arsenal’s starting eleven against West Ham United were yet to be born. 1984 was the year when the Canaries defeated the Gunners 1-0 at Carrow Road. Since then lot of water has flown under the bridge, and as Norwich welcomes Arsenal to their 27,000 capacity stadium this Saturday, both the teams find themselves at the opposite end of the table.
Arsenal have lost just a solitary game in the league this season; a home defeat at the hands of league leaders Chelsea. However, Arsene Wenger’s men were quick to pick themselves up after the narrow defeat to the Blues and won their next two games against Olympiakos and West Ham United. The win against West Ham, especially, would have done wonders to their morale, as historically Sam Allardyce’s teams have bullied the Gunners. It was a clinical display; not fancy but clinical. They will now travel to Carrow Road with high hopes against a struggling Norwich side. The visitors currently lie 7th in the league table, but a win against the Canaries will see them rise up to the second place, if other results go their way.
Norwich, on the other hand, are yet to win a match in the league. But perhaps most worryingly for manager Chris Hughton, they have lost those games heavily. Their defense has been in shambles as they have conceded nine goals in their last two games against Liverpool and Chelsea. However, Norwich have also had a tough run of games in the league lately with Newcastle United, Liverpool and Chelsea being their last three opponents. Going by their form, anything other than a loss will be a bonus for Norwich in the upcoming fixture against Arsenal.
We bring you a detailed preview of this upcoming clash between these two teams this Saturday.
Team News & Tactical Brief
On the injury front, Norwich are expected to welcome back Scottish duo Steve Whittaker and Simon Lappin to the squad. Whittaker, who was out with an ankle injury, will provide a big boost to Norwich’s leaking defense. Snodgrass and on-loan striker Harry Kane are the only other injury concern for Norwich at the moment. While Kane is expected to return in three weeks time, Snodgrass will undergo a late fitness test before the match against Arsenal (although his chances of playing look unlikely).
The defense has been Chris Hughton’s biggest worry. Norwich have conceded 17 goals in seven games so far and currently have the worst goal difference in the league. Garrido, Bassong and Turner are all error prone while Martin and Leon Barnett have perhaps been the best of the lot. Turner had an awful game against Liverpool and was dropped in the game against Chelsea, but Bassong, his replacement, didn’t exactly cover himself up in glory either. It would be interesting to see whether Hughton puts Whittaker straight back into the starting line-up this weekend, given the lack of options he has on the bench.
Norwich has mostly used a variation of 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1 this season but the midfield structure has varied a lot. While Howson and Johnson have started in the center of the midfield in most of the games, against Chelsea Johnson was moved out to the left in place of Surman, while Tettey started alongside Howson.
Upfront, Grant Holt has been in good form recently having scored in the last two matches against Liverpool and Chelsea. The Englishman will surely lead the line, but Hughton is still to find an effective partner for him. Harry Kane’s injury hasn’t helped Norwich’s cause and too much of the goal scoring responsibility has fallen on Holt’s shoulder and it comes as no surprise that the Canaries have managed to score only five goals so far this season. Hughton selected Johnson and Hoolahan against Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, but one can expect a change against Arsenal. Steve Morison has had a good record against the Gunners as he scored against them in both the games last season.
Johnson looked out of his comfort zone on the left against Chelsea and a change looks to be on the cards against Wenger’s men. Johnson will move to the center and partner Howson, while Pilkington will start on the left. Howson will have the big responsibility of marking Santi Cazorla in the midfield; a tough task considering the form the Spaniard has been in this season.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-1-1): Ruddy, Martin, R.Benett, Bassong, Garrido; E.Benett, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington; Morison; Holt;
Arsenal are at the top of the injury list table at the moment. Polish duo Szczesny and Fabianski have suffered setbacks in their recovery from the injuries that have kept them out for most part of this season. Fabianski will now miss the action for another three months, while Szczesny is considered to be out for another 2-3 weeks. But the good news is that Abou Diaby can feature in this match, although it is unlikely that Wenger will risk him so soon. Jack Wilshere has taken big strides in his bid to return to the first team and he along with Walcott and Sagna is expected to be fit for selection next week. Kieran Gibbs and Rosicky are the other names (with no probable return date set) on the injury list at the moment.
The Gunners will again line-up in their trusted 4-2-3-1 formation with only one change expected in the starting line-up that faced West Ham in their last league game. Andre Santos will replace the injured Kieran Gibbs in the left back slot. While Santos is brilliant attacking-wise, his defending leaves a lot to be desired. Gibbs has been in great form this season and will be a big loss for Arsenal. The only assuring factor is that Podolski will play on the left and he is excellent in tracking back and helping out in the defense. Santos will certainly need his help down the wings.
Tall German defender Per Mertesacker will once again partner Thomas Vermaelen in the center of the defense. Mikel Arteta will partner Aaron Ramsey in the midfield. Ramsey, who was recently stripped of his Wales captaincy, has shown signs of recapturing the form he had before he suffered from that horrific injury. He will have to provide the driving runs from the midfield in the absence of Abou Diaby.
Olivier Giroud has found his goal scoring touch once again as he followed up his goal against West Ham with another one for his national side in France’s 1-1 draw against Spain. His opponent that night, Santi Cazorla, has been in great form so far and will once again dictate the play in the final third. Gervinho, will start on the right ahead of Oxlade-Chamberlain who is returning from international duty and is likely to be on the bench.
The only worry for Wenger is fatigue as most of his players participated in the World Cup qualifiers this week.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Mannone(GK); Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos; Ramsey, Arteta; Podolski, Cazorla, Gervinho; Giroud;
- There has been a total of 24 goals scored in the last five Premier League meetings between Norwich and Arsenal.
- Norwich have won just one of their last 12 Premier League games (W1 D4 L7).
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League away games (W7 D4 L1).
- The Gunners have won five and lost none of their last 12 trips to Carrow Road in all competitions.
- Norwich have allowed their opponents the joint-most shots on target against them of Premier League teams this season (41).
Facts courtesy Eurosports.
Players To Watch Out For
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Norwich City have conceded the most number of goals from outside the box this season (5), while Santi Cazorla has scored more goals from outside the box than any other player in the top 5 European leagues since Aug 2011 (9). This fact alone should point out why he is our player to watch out for.
Cazorla has been magical since his arrival in England and has taken life in the Premier League like duck to water. His mazy runs, little tricks and flicks and breathtaking passes have been a sight to behold. Very few players possess such great control with both feet and that gives him a distinct advantage over others. There has already been debate among the Arsenal fans on whether Cazorla is better than Fabregas, which shows how quickly he has become a fan favorite.
The leaking Norwich defense will not relish the prospect of facing this Arsenal attack at the moment. Cazorla, it seems, have taken the Gunners to another level.
Grant Holt (Norwich City)
Grant Holt has been Norwich’s best player in their last two matches. He scored against Liverpool and Chelsea and is slowly regaining his form that saw him score 15 goals in the league last season (He perhaps even deserved an England call-up during the Euro). But Holt is more than just about scoring goals as he leads the line extremely well. Holt is excellent in the air and uses his body strength to his advantage. If Norwich can provide him with some service, he will cause trouble to the Arsenal back line.
Norwich 0-3 Arsenal
Norwich gave a good account of themselves at the Emirates last season where they managed to snatch a point from the Gunners. This time though, they go into this match on the back of some poor results. Although Norwich will come out fighting hard, this Arsenal side has too much class for them. The Gunners should win this match comfortably by a margin of three goals or more.