After a two week hiatus for internationals, Arsenal return to domestic business with a trip to winless Norwich City. The away win over West Ham corrected a few anxieties set off by the defeat to Chelsea, whilst Arsenal fans look forward to the sight of Jack Wilshere on the Arsenal bench, as he is confirmed to be in the squad tomorrow.
Arsene Wenger thinks his side are well suited to life on the road. The team has undergone a reconfiguration in the wake of Robin van Persie’s departure, but Arsene seems to believe the transition has been easier away from home.
The games are a bit more open and because we have a positive attitude away from home,” he told Arsenal Player.
“Sometimes we take more advantage of our chances [on the road]. I`m very happy with the behaviour of the team, [be it] away from home or at home.
“Maybe [we`ve] played with less freedom at home – with a bit more pressure. Let`s do well at Norwich, and I think that will put the team in a better position at home as well.”
Meanwhile, Canaries boss Chris Hughton is relishing the visit of Arsenal, ‘It`s a great opportunity for us. We`re playing at home in front of a packed crowd and in what will be a great atmosphere.
“We need to make sure that we stay in the game and are also a threat. It`s a home game for us and these are the type of games you need to look forward to, and I know my players are.
“We have to get back to where we were two games ago performance-wise.
“If we look at our season so far we`ve had seven games – three of those have been disappointing where we`ve conceded goals, but we`ve also had four very good performances.’
Norwich City Team News:
Norwich will run the rule of Scotland international Robert Snodgrass after picking up a very slight knock on international duty. Steven Whittaker is fit again, but lacks match practice. He will play for Norwich U-21s on Monday.
Meanwhile, on loan Spurs striker Harry Kane is sidelined by a broken metatarsal.
Norwich (from): Ruddy, Barnett, Garrido, Martin, Bassong, Tettey, Johnson, Hoolahan, Howson, E Bennett, Holt, Bunn, R Bennett, Morison, Pilkington, Jackson, Turner, Snodgrass, Surman.
Player to watch: Grant Holt
Holt hasn’t started this season in the same form as the last campaign, but he certainly has the qualities to give Vermaelen and Mertesacker a rough afternoon.
It’s likely that the target man will start upfront alone with Wes Hoolahan in behind him. If Norwich are to win, you’ve the feeling Holt will play a big part in orchestrating Arsenal’s downfall.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal name Jack Wilshere in their squad of 18 for the first time since May 2011 following ankle and knee injuries, his agent confirmed on twitter this afternoon.
Tomas Rosicky (achilles) and Wojciech Szczesny (ankle) are a fortnight away, Bacary Sagna is not deemed to be match fit after a broken leg. Abou Diaby has a thigh strain.
Theo Walcott will be out for a fortnight with a bruised lung picked up playing for England, Laurent Koscielny’s knee injury sidelines him for 2 weeks. Kieran Gibbs is not quite fit enough after a thigh strain. Lukasz Fabianski is out for another three months with ankle ligament damage.
Arsenal (from): Mannone, Martinez, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Djourou, Vermaelen, A.Santos, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla, Frimpong, Coquelin, Chamberlain, Gervinho, Arshavin, Podolski, Wilshere, Gervinho, Giroud, Chamakh.
Player to watch: Mikel Arteta
I think, certainly away from home, Arteta is Arsenal’s most important player. The way he runs the rule in front of the defence is both an astute form of defence, especially with Hoolahan likely to be roaming in ‘the hole’
But he is also the spring board for attack with his passing accuracy which is, frankly, freak in its consistency. Ramsey and Cazorla will need to benefit from his supply, as well as Arsenal’s wide players, as Mikel likes to spread the play.
Match Facts & Stats
Arsenal have not lost at Carrow Road in 11 visits since a 1-0 defeat on Boxing Day 1984.
Norwich are winless in their last nine matches against Arsenal home and away since a 4-2 victory at Highbury on the first day of the Premier League in August 1992.
The Canaries have scored with just 6% of their attempts on goal, the worst conversion rate in the division.
Chris Hughton has failed to win in his last 12 Premier League matches as A manager since his Newcastle side won at Arsenal in November 2010.
The teams have met 49 times, with the Gunners winning 22 of those, Norwich winning 10 and 17 draws.
Tomorrow’s referee will be Lee Probert. You know, the one that went all Mary Whitehouse because Arsene Wenger kicked a water bottle at Old Trafford once.
I think this will be a tougher game than people seem to think, with Norwich’s commitment very high. I’m going for a repeat of last year’s 2-1 win for Arsenal. Holt for Norwich, Podolski and Vermaelen for Arsenal.
Arsenal’s next fixture is a home tie against Schalke on Wednesday night. Norwich play away at Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa next Saturday.