The newly promoted side comes into this match on the back of a narrow defeat at the hands of Aston Villa. It would be interesting to see whether he decides to pack the midfield with an extra man, in which case David Fox is likely to get a starting berth in place of Grant Holt.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Possible Starting Line-Up (4-4-2): John Ruddy; Leon Barnett, Russell Martin, Marc Tierney, Kyle Naughton; Bradley Johnson, David Fox, Wesley Hoolahan, Anthony Pilkington, Elliott Bennett; Steve Morison
The newly promoted Norwich City will host Arsenal in what will be the 50th meeting between the two clubs. Premier League action returns this Saturday and Carrow Road is where it will kick-off.
When it comes to “Player to watch out for”, in case of Arsenal it has become colossally difficult to ignore Robin Van Persie. A victory on Saturday will see them leap-frog Liverpool to 6th place, who have a tough match at hand against Chelsea on Sunday.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST. The former Lille man is sure to give Barnett and Naughton some severe headaches.
Norwich have won none of their last 11 matches at Carrow Road in all competitions against Arsenal (W0 D7 L4).
The last three Premier League meetings between Arsenal and Norwich have seen the Gunners score at least four times and concede one goal on each occasion.
The Gunners have shipped more goals away from home than any other team in the top flight (17), but only Man City (23) have scored more away goals than Arsenal (11).
Norwich have scored the joint-most headed goals (6), a figure that also accounts for a joint-league high 38% of their Premier league strikes this season.
Arsenal have scored a league-high 91% of goals from open play in the Premier League.
Gooners, who have been holding their breath during the International break, can finally exhale in relief, well nearly. Kyle Naughton and Marc Tierney will complete the back four. For Norwich, the bad news is while Vermaelen has returned to shore up Gunner’s defense they have very little to strengthen theirs. The Canaries’ defense has been very shaky to say the least, they have conceded 6 goals in their last 2 games in the league.
Martin and Barnett have been having a torrid time at the center of the defense lately. The visitors have been on an excellent run of form off late with only one defeat in their last 11 competitive matches. All their players have returned to the club unscathed, except for one Carl Jenkinson who is out with a back injury. When it is a given fact that the spotlight will be upon the Arsenal captain, we will try to look at a certain player who has been greatly influential to say the least. Steve Morison has been in very good form, having scored in each of the last two matches for Norwich. Their strikers have found their form off late scoring 9 goals in their last 4 matches. Arsene Wenger’s side will look to continue their climb towards the top of the table. They won 3-0, but perhaps more significantly they managed to keep a clean sheet, which was their first in last 5 league matches. Barnett, in particular, has had a game to forget against Aston Villa. The back line has looked anything but assured for Paul Lambert’s side, but as of now he doesn’t have too many options to chop and change. His careless back pass allowed Agbonlahor to score in the second half, while his inability to mark Darren Bent allowed the English man to score Villa’s third goal. Their home form have been very good in particular, with only one defeat at Carrow road this season. So, with no natural right back (natural and fit that is) remaining in the squad, Djourou will be asked to fill in the gap and quite worryingly so.
In the midfield, Song will provide cover to the back four; the Cameroonian has been immense for Arsenal this season, providing the much-needed steel to the midfield. But the lack of depth in the squad means Martin and Barnett will once again be in the firing line against a free scoring Arsenal side. The Gunners have lost only once in their last 20 meetings with the Canaries, and there is hardly any reason to believe that this trend will change in the upcoming fixture. Arteta, who scored his second goal in his Arsenal Career against West Brom, will drop deep in the midfield and look to keep the ball moving forward. His running at the defense, fancy foot works, directness in front of goal and big-bald-forehead is what Arsenal have been lacking for some time now. It goes without saying Robin Van Persie is expected to be tormentor in chief and in all probabilities will chalk up his 30th and 31st goal of the year 2011.
The International break is over (thankfully) and we are back into business. He has scored 11 goals so far in the league this season, making him the top scorer in England so far. Gervinho has already racked up 2 goals and 7 assists (in all competition) and is looking like one of the best bargains made this summer. Gervinho, after 11 games this season, is looking like a classical (astute) Arsene Wenger buy. So a new name has been added to the injury list, which already contains Jack Wilshere, Chamakh, Gibbs, Diaby, Sagna and Miyaichi. Arsenal comes into this match on the back of a comfortable 3-0 victory over West Brom at home. Like their host, there won’t be any major changes in the line-up from the Emirates.
Possible Starting Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Djourou, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Santos; Song, Arteta; Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Gervinho; Van Persie
There won’t be much of a change to the line-up that The Canaries fielded in their match at the Villa Park. Aaron Ramsey will complete the triumvirate in the Arsenal Midfield. Expect this to be a very open match, with Arsenal winning it comfortably in the end. Koscielny has come a long way as well and his reputation has grown leaps and bounds after some solid displays. The Gunners waltzed past West Brom in their last match in the league. The center-back pairing of Koscielny and Vermaelen will start again in this match and will look to keep things tight at the back. The Brazilian has been good going forward, but his defensive capabilities are still up for debate.
Arsene Wenger will line-up the team, in his favored 4-2-3-1 formation, which will eventually shape up in 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 according to the need of the hour. He will start at the right back, with Santos completing the back four. Morison has been ably supported up front by Grant Holt; the Englishman has had a fine match against Villa last time out.
Carrow Road, Norwich
Considering the amount of goals both the teams have conceded this season (39 goals in total!), this is all set for a high scoring affair, which on current form, the Gunners should be able to win.
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Gervais Yao Kouassi (Arsenal)
A Big “Fore”Headache on the Wings
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Saturday – November 19, 2011
18:15 hours IST (+05:30 GMT) – LIVE! on ESPN India
Vermaelen made his first start after return from injury and immediately showed what the Gunners have been missing all this time. The Wales captain has been the main driving force from the midfield; he will look to support Van Persie as much as he can. Arsenal’s hopes of a top four finish or more depends heavily on this man and he would hope to continue his brilliant form against Norwich this Saturday.
Probable Starting Line-Up in Norwich CIty Vs Arsenal
Norwich City 1 – 3 Arsenal
Looking at Norwich’s defense off late and Arsenal’s defensive records away from home, this has all the ingredients of a high scoring affair. Jenkinson who has been in excellent form for the Gunners is certain to miss this game. Arsenal have had a strong hold over this fixture in recent past. Norwich will still be without the services of Elliot Ward, Zak Whitbread, ex-Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala and James Vaughan.
Norwich have had a relatively good start to the season, and are looking safe at 9th in the table. Finally, we come to Robin Van Persie; the Dutchman has been in the form of his life this year. Most importantly for the Gunners, they have ended a run of 8 away matches without a win in the league, with a memorable 5-3 victory over Chelsea. Theo Walcott has given some really good performances for England in the recently concluded International matches; he will keep his place in the wings with Gervinho on the other side. Mertesacker, Rosicky, Arshavin, Benayoun, Park and Fabianski will add depth to the squad from the bench.
Paul Lambert uses a variation of 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formations to set up his team. Elliott Bennett and Anthony Pilkington are to provide width to the team, while Bradley Johnson and Wesley Hoolahan have the unenviable task of keeping the Arsenal midfield quiet and providing support to the striker up front
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