Carrow Road, Norwich
May 11, 2014; 15:00 BST
Arsenal FC travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich City in their final game of the season. The last time the Gunners visited this stadium was back in 2012 and Grant Holt scored the winner in the first half. But a lot has changed for this Norwich side since then and the Canaries now face the prospect of relegation.
Neil Adams’ side are currently on 33 points – three points behind West Bromwich Albion – but even if they manage to close that gap down on the final day, it will be nearly impossible for them to overcome the goal difference. But Norwich will hope to bow out of the Premier League on a high and give the fans something to cheer about.
Arsenal on the other hand have already secured their place in the top four and are currently three points behind Chelsea. But like Norwich they are unlikely to overcome the huge difference in “goal difference” on the final day. But Arsene Wenger’s men, who are currently on five-match winning streak, will like to continue this momentum ahead of their big match in Wembley in the FA Cup final.
Team news and tactics
Neil Adams doesn’t have too many injury concerns to contain with ahead of this fixture. David Fox and Anthony Pilkington, who is suffering from a hip injury and his last appearance came in the 4-2 defeat against Southampton back in March, remain at the side-lines. On loan defender Joseph Yobo, who has been nursing a calf injury since their match against West Bromwich Albion at the start of last month, is likely to miss out once again.
Neil Adams is likely to make two changes to the side he fielded in the 0-0 draw against Chelsea in their last game. Nathan Redmond, who came on as a substitute in the second half, will replace Steven Whittaker in the side. This means that Martin Olsson will once again drop back to his role as the left back while Redmond starts on the left wing. Gary Hooper is also likely to replace Johan Elmander at the top.
Norwich don’t have much to play for other than pride and they would certainly hope to provide their fans with something to cheer about before the relegation materializes. They defended well against Chelsea and managed to keep their first clean sheet since their 2-0 win over Sunderland back in March. Neil Adams will demand similar organisation at the back against Arsenal, but he will also hope that his forwards can deliver some goals, having scored only two goals in their last six matches.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Ruddy (GK); Martin, Turner, Bennett, Olsson; Johnson, Tettey; Snodgrass, Howson, Redmond; Hooper
Arsene Wenger doesn’t have any new injury concern ahead of this fixture. Abou Diaby, Serge Gnabry, Ryo Miyaichi and Theo Walcott remain at the side-lines. But the Frenchman insisted that Aaron Ramsey is likely to return to the squad for this game after missing out the last match against West Bromwich Albion. The good news is that Jack Wilshere, who has been struggling with his fitness since the 1-0 loss against Stoke City back in March, could also be part of the squad on Sunday.
Kieran Gibbs, whose last appearance was the FA Cup semi-final win over Wigan Athletic last month, will also return to the squad after recovering from his ankle injury, but Wenger confirmed the absence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. There are doubts about the possibility of Oxlade-Chamberlain recovering before the FA Cup final as well.
Arsene Wenger is likely to make just one change to the starting eleven he selected against West Brom last week. Aaron Ramsey will replace Mathieu Flamini in the midfield as he resumes his partnership with Mikel Arteta in the pivot. Nacho Monreal will start at left back as Wenger is unlikely to risk Gibbs’ fitness ahead of the FA Cup final. Jack Wilshere will start on the bench.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny (GK); Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil, Podolski; Giroud
- Norwich have won just one of their six Barclays Premier League home games against Arsenal, but that was last season.
- In fact in all competitions, that defeat ended a run of 12 games unbeaten at Carrow Road for the Gunners
- Mesut Ӧzil registered his first Premier League goal in the reverse fixture at the Emirates this season, scoring twice in that game.
- The Gunners managed 11 shots on target against Norwich at the Emirates, their highest tally in a single Premier League game this season.
- Arsenal have won six and drawn two of their last eight Premier League games on the final day of the season.
Players to watch-out for
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
The German international might not have had the impact people expected him to have after his arrival and the way he started off his career with Arsenal, but Ozil has already become a vital part of the team. In fact Arsenal struggled in attack during his absence, which showed his importance to the side. Ozil has scored five goals and provided nine assists in the Premier League this season, and he will only get better next season as he adapts to this league and the Gunners sign a more prolific striker. The 25-year-old has been in good form since his return from injury and will now look to end the season on a high against Norwich City.
Norwich City 0-1 Arsenal
With both the teams having nothing but pride to play for in this game, there will be an end-of-the-season feel to it. Norwich will once again look to frustrate Arsenal like they managed to do against Chelsea. But expect the Gunners to break through eventually and win the game by a solitary goal.