Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Arsenal v Norwich Preview

After a fairly comprehensive 5-2 win in the Premier League at Everton on Sunday it's Carabao Cup action for Arsenal tonight with a home game against Norwich in the last 16 of the competition. Sunday's win was the best performance of the season so far for me even if we did hand the two goals to Everton. Not only did we score five goals, but we had 30 attempts on goal with 14 of them on target.

We looked a very different team to the one which had only scored one away goal in four games before Sunday and we finally managed to punish a team we had on the ropes. I'm not saying it was a perfect display, but we could have done with a lot more of that attacking intent in the defeats against Stoke and Watford. I don't think it's any coincidence that we performed so well in attack in the first game that Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette all started together.

Of course we'll have a very different team tonight as we had in the 1-0 win at home to Doncaster in the last round. Our Europa League and Carabao Cup team has done pretty well so far with four wins out of four. Considering it's a team made up mainly of fringe and reserve players with many of them playing out of position that's an impressive record.

With David Ospina injured the chances are Matt Macey will play in goal as I would be very surprised if Petr Cech filled in like he had to do at Red Star Belgrade last Thursday. The defence will probably be pretty similar to the one which managed to keep Red Star scoreless and I don't expect too many changes at all from Thursday night. It's the fifth chance for those players to show what they can do and I certainly think they have every chance of winning tonight.

Olivier Giroud will lead the line hot on the heels of winning the "Puskas" award for the best goal of the year as voted by the public. We all know how adept Arsenal fans are at voting for their team or players in online polls and he was the most prominent player up for the award. His "Scorpion Kick" against Crystal Palace on New Year's Day won him the trophy and he wasn't too far off repeating it with a fairly similar goal to beat Red Star last week.

I would imagine we will see Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi in the front three with Giroud while Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin should man the midfield and the defence will probably be the same as it was against Red Star. The defence struggled at times in that game, but they somehow managed to keep a clean sheet. To be fair the only one of them playing in his actual position was Rob Holding and he's still quite raw and inexperienced. 

Norwich have started the season reasonably well and they're in the play off places in the Championship after 13 games. Promotion to the Premier League is their goal for the season and anything outside of that would be a huge bonus for them tonight. I am sure they will bring a large contingent of fans to the Emirates and they should make themselves heard as long as their team are in with a chance.

As with the Europa League games so far there isn't a huge amount of interest in this game compared to the Premier League, but it is good to see how those fringe and reserve players fare. Jack Wilshere is the one who could be closest to getting into the first team considering the issues we have had and continue to have in midfield. It will be interesting to see how he gets on tonight and if he can keep himself off the treatment table long enough to make a real impact on the first team.

All in all I won't be overly bothered if the result goes against us, but it would be good for the players given a chance to progress. There's a Wembley final to play early next year and it will be interesting to see if the manager strengthens the team a little if we do manage to go through tonight. The more game time each of those players get the better for the first team I suppose and long may it continue so.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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