Sunday, 29 November 2015

Arsenal's Trip To Norwich City Previewed

Arsenal go to Norwich today in fourth place after spurning chances to go to the top of the table in their last two games. A win over Spurs would have seen them take the lead in the Premier League, but they could only draw while the defeat at West Brom last week was a bitter blow to their title aspirations. If they're going to have a genuine chance of winning the title they need to drive home any advantage they can and that means winning games when the other challangers are dropping points.

Those two games where Arsenal certainly were more than capable of taking all there points were opportunities lost, but there are plenty of other opportunities over the next few weeks. They travel to newly promoted Norwich today and follow that with a home game against Sunderland and a trip to Villa. Those two games are against the bittom club and a club who have just climbed out of the bottom three and they're games, like the one against Norwich, that Arsenal have to win.

Arsenal's biggest problem for a while now has been the lack of fit players and the lack of options as a result. Aaron Ramsey did at least make a return to the team as a sub in the midweek win over Dinamo Zagreb and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be set to return tomorrow. Those two players will certainly give Arsene Wenger more options and their returns could spell the end of Joel Campbell's chances for a while.

The boss prefers Ramsey on the right and he will get the nod today I think with Chamberlain maybe getting an introduction from the bench at some stage. I don't expect too many other changes from the midweek win unless there are any late injuries or illnesses to consider. The Capital One Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday was a bad night for so many reasons, but at least that defeat means the players have no midweek game this week.

The news on Francis Coquelin's injury means we probably won't see him until early March at the best and it also means there's an awful lot resting on the shoulders of Mathieu Flamini. I don't buy into any of the defenders stepping up to fill the role and I worry that Mikel Arteta is done for at this stage. Ideally the boss will go out on January 1st to buy the defensive midfielder he should have bought last summer to challenge Coquelin for a place in the team or play alongside him at times when it's needed.  There's a lot of games to play before the transfer window opens though and we just have to hope Flamini can keep his defensive discipline as much as possible in those games. 

As for the game against Norwich it's another game Arsenal should win just like they should have done last week. Luck certainly played a part in that defeat with West Brom getting two goals from one shot on target and Santi Cazorla slipping as he took the penalty he missed. The lack of concentration when Arsenal went one up played a huge part in the result too and left them chasing the game in the second half and they have to stay switched on for the whole game today.

Norwich have played some good football since their promotion, but they have gradually slipped back towards the relegation zone. Their only win in their last eight games was at home to Swansea and that was their only clean sheet so far this season too. They put up a good performance away to Chelsea last week, but ended up losing by the only goal. 

They have won two and lost three of their six home games so far, but they haven't conceded too many goals at home. They have varied their team and the way they play as their manager has seen fit for each opponent and I don't expect them to be too open against Arsenal today. That could change if Arsenal can score first and if they do so they need to be ruthless and put the game beyond doubt as quickly as possible.

There's very little in it at the top of the table and a win will put Arsenal level on points with the leaders. They could even go top with a five goal win, but let's not get ahead of ourselves for the moment. What's important is getting the win and keeping a lid on any more injuries too.

It was great to see Alexis Sanchez getting a couple of midweek goals and maybe they have marked a return to form for him after a spell where he wasn't at his best. With Olivier Giroud consistently putting the ball in the net and Mesut Ozil making chances for fun Arsenal have all the ammunition they need to win the game. I'm pretty confident they will get the win, but you can never be sure of anything with Arsenal.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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