Norwich – Arsenal Preview, Plus Some Team NotesBy: Lachlan | November 18th, 2011
We’re finally back to some league action again after the two week hiatus. I guess in England they’d call that a fortnight. Anyway, we’re off to the east coast of England to take on Norwich at Carrow Road in an early morning (North American time) tilt.
Before I get to the official preview, let’s check in on some injury notes. The oft-injured Kieran Gibbs is (you guessed it) out for another four to five weeks, according to the official club website. He recently had surgery for a hernia. Jenkinson is out with a stress fracture in his back, and there’s no word on how long he’ll be out. Chamakh and Diaby are back to full training again, although Diaby won’t be available for a while. Perhaps he’ll get in a game or two with the reserves first. And finally, Miyaichi is out for four to six weeks with an ankle sprain.
But now comes the time in the blog that’s most difficult for me – trying to preview a team that was in the Championship last season, and with whom I am not too familiar. But I’ll do my best. In my research, I found out that in the 11th century, Norwich was the second-largest city in England. I bet you didn’t know that. Or care. OK, what about their team? While many fans expected them to be sent back down at the end of the season, they’re surprisingly in 9th place, with 13 points from 11 matches, and a -2 goal differential. In their last seven league outings, they have three wins, two losses, and two draws. The losses were away to Villa and Manchester United, so there’s no real shame in that.
I went to their official website to glean a few nuggets and get that photo I just enclosed. We can probably expect a lineup similar to the one they used against Villa, which would be: Ruddy, Naughton, R. Martin, Barnett, Tierney, Bennett, Johnson, Hoolahan, Pilkington, Morison, Holt (c). Now, I could break down the strengths and weaknesses of each of those players, but you all know I’d be talking silly talk, since I’m really not too sure about a newly-promoted team. Hey, you get what you pay for around here, so stop the complaining. I’ll at least give you a quote from Wenger about Norwich:
“Norwich are a very good side and I consider them a difficult Premier League away game. They are a dynamic side who plays quick and dynamic football, so if you are not completely focused and up for it, you have no chance against them. We are warned that we need to be at our best.”
Anyway, I can tell you that Anthony Pilkington is probably their best bet to score, with four goals thus far this season. Also, the Canaries have scored seven headed goals this season, which trails only Man Utd.
But at least we’re consistently rock solid against set pieces.
Now I’ll turn my attentions back to a topic I at least know a tad more about – Arsenal. As you probably already know, our form has been terrific lately, and we have won our last four Premier League outings. Obviously, as you can see from the standings, as well as the fact that Norwich has only lost once at home this year, we could have a tussle on our hands.
As for our lineup, some of it should be easy to figure out, but there are a couple of question marks too. Here’s my stab at it:
Koscielny Mertesacker Vermaelen Santos
Bench: Fabianski, Djourou, Miquel, Rosicky, Frimpong, Arshavin, Chamakh
Unless I’m totally overlooking something, most of that should be straightforward. Santos gets the start over the injured Gibbs. Right back is a question, but I think Kos starts there in order to get our best players on the field. Plus the size in the middle should be handy against the team with the second-most headed goals in the EPL this year. Djourou is a possibility on the right, but then either Kos or Mertesacker will sit, and I doubt we’ll see that. I suppose there’s a chance Rosicky could start, but I think the central midfielders I listed are Wenger’s preferred lineup. On the wings, Arshavin could start, but I think he’s slightly behind Walcott and Gervinho in that pecking order. And then RvP should be good to go up front, after being left out of Holland’s second friendly of the interlull. The bench somewhat fills itself out, with Miquel and Chamakh being my biggest question marks there.
Despite our woes at right back, it’s a pretty strong lineup, and it should be enough to get past Norwich. Particularly if our excellent form continues without interruption.
I’m not sure who’s handling the live blog and recap just yet, but at least I know the game is on ESPN2 here in the good ol’ US of A. I guess if they’re going to schedule games that early, the least they can do is put them on tv.
Come on, Arsenal.
If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8b.