Norwich City – Arsenal: Match Preview, Predicted Line-Up. Canaries in a Goal Mind?


Or will they set up to stop Arsenal’s attack?

On the back of disappointment at West Bromwich Albion and the loss of our midfield anchor-man, Francis Coquelin–and his back-up, Mikel Arteta–how does Arsenal regroup and respond?

Will a 3-nil romp in mid-week vs Dinamo Zagreb serve to re-grease the Arsenal machine or does it only add unneeded mileage to a vehicle in need of some time on the rack?

So many questions… And answers that can only be revealed on match day…

Doesn’t mean we can’t do a bit of guessing, now does it?  😀

Norwich City are back in the Premier League by way of winning the end-of-season playoffs between the 3rd and 6th place finishers in the Championship.  To me, promoted teams, used to winning their matches in the previous season, always represent potential stumbling blocks for top teams hoping for easy points.  If they’ve also shown the nerve and desire to come up by way of the playoffs, I become extra wary.  The Canaries may sit only two points above the relegation places but we should make no mistake.  If Arsenal visit Carrow Road and bring anything less than full effort and commitment, Norwich can punish us.

The names in their squad may not strike fear but they have sufficient quality to stop our attack if we’re lazy and take chances if they come their way.  Cameron Jerome and Dieumerci Mbokani are the men up front while guys like Nathan Redmond, Jonny Howson, Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Brady will be working hard to provide assists or score themselves.

We should also be aware of pacy fullbacks Andre Wisdom and Martin Olsson.  Central defenders Sebastien Bassong, Ryan Bennett and Captain Russell Martin aren’t the biggest, but the first two (Martin missed the match but will be available for ours) and goalkeeper John Ruddy limited Chelsea to only a single goal a week ago.  The Canaries managed a clean sheet in a 1-nil win vs Swansea in the league match before that one.  Manchester City, we should remember, required a very late goal to take full points from Norwich three matches ago.

How then does Arsenal go about breaking the Canaries resistance?  Unfortunately, in attack, our resources remain limited by injuries and fitness concerns.  Things are looking up, however, with the return of Aaron Ramsey.  Although he looked a bit rusty, he was able to come on and play almost a half an hour as a substitute.  Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain should be the next body returning to fitness and will be available for this one.  Will one of those two be used in Coquelin’s position at the rear of midfield?

Personally, I doubt it, and, instead, I believe Mathieu Flamini will continue in that spot.  Ramsey, however, might take over on the right side of attack even though Joel Campbell had a solid outing vs Dinamo and made a lovely slide rule pass for one of Alexis Sanchez’ two goals.  Alexis, supposedly, is carrying a slight hamstring strain and many were desperate to give him some time off during a lengthy barren spell for both club and country.  Will he finally get some bench-time?

Manager Arsene Wenger recently compared Alexis to a lion on the hunt but will now have to decide if his predator deserves some time to digest his prey or if he’s hungry for more.  I would be very surprised if he gets a rest considering we have nearly a full week before we play again vs Sunderland.

Then again, I was surprised we didn’t rotate a bit with the rear-guard for the mid-week match.  Perhaps Wenger believed that we needed our absolute best group to help Flamini and, maybe, to try to mollify the home support who witnessed a more makeshift group lose an earlier Champions League match vs Olympiakos.  Could he be thinking the Premier League is a chance to rotate?

My guess is no.  In fact, the only change I predict from midweek would be Ramsey in for Campbell.

Bench: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell

It’s quite hard to discern exactly what Wenger is thinking.  League matches against teams near the bottom are always must-win affairs but a slightly deeper group eager and ready to contribute seems essential with the busy Festive Season schedule only a few weeks off.  What do my fellow Berkampesquers believe?

Regardless of the group Wenger sets out, we need the points.  The table is very compressed and anything less than a win would be an opportunity missed.  With Manchester United and Leicester City sharing points today we can go level with the latter club (and Manchester City) with a win.

Let’s do it, eh…

by 17highburyterrace

23 thoughts on “Norwich City – Arsenal: Match Preview, Predicted Line-Up. Canaries in a Goal Mind?

  • Yep 17, I go with your starting XI…

    We’ve missed Ramsey, he is like a latter day, but more technical, Ray Parlour.
    He’ll give us that extra body in midfield, when Norwich are threatening and Hector will have more room to rampage down the flank…
    Aaron is long overdue a goal or two, so why not get ’em in Norfolk?

    Steady as ya go, with the rest of the team…
    West Brom was a timely reminder of not taking opponents seriously enough.
    I don’t expect a repeat of that on Sunday…
    Great post 17…

  • Hi there HT. If I had to put my house on the line to predict out formation then the safest bet would be the line up you have set out here – it is the entirely logical formation, representing both function (Flam) and favour (Rambo) in selection and position.

    My gut instinct questions two of these however – not enough for my house though! Wenger is ever given to plan for the future and invest in youth. Either Chambers or Beilik could therefore come in instead of Flamini; its probably a shade too early for Beilik, but I do wonder about Chambers. He showed huge potential at the start of last season and needs to be given an opportunity; he won’t get it at RB, and barring double injury he won’t get it at CB either, so why not now at DM?

    I also think Campbell might get the nod to start on the right, unless he’s injured. Two reasons for this, a) he put in a good performance on Tuesday and its hard not to reward young players when they deliver, and b) why rush Ramsey into a start when coming back from injury? Ramsey is notoriously slow getting the rust off, so lets give him some decent sub time to work it off without risking injury recurrence.

    I agree with you basic sentiments here entirely HT – anything less than taking the opposition seriously and we will be left embarrassed. Conversely, I think we are due a big win one of these days soon, and early pressure and taking our chances could mean we don’t have to fight it out for the full 90 min. Hopefully Tuesday will have served to keep confidence levels high, but will not have let players forget that we dropped 3 points last time out in the league. We need nothing less than a win tomorrow.

  • Thanks Seventeenho. I know you are busy at the moment, so another preview by you is very much appreciated. I think AB had said it all for me, especially re Ramsey and Campbell.

  • Guys,

    Norwich is one of those ptb teams with a good keeper in Ruddy. We might see Campbell playing well, we might also not see him do well, as we have seen this season that one game he is good the next game he is just not there at all.

    Rambo is rusty after his injury comeback yes, but i feel that he can bring something different.

    So, i will go with your preferred lineup 17ht, and start Rambo.


  • HT,

    10 out of your 11 looks certain to me. Just like for AB, Ramsey or Campbell is where my question mark is. Confidence is a living and real issue for Wenger. Not to play Campbell immediately after such a great outing by him would be sending a very negative and potentially demoralizing message to him. That’s why I expect it to be Campbell. That would also afford Wenger the opportunity to see if Campbell ‘s superb form v Zagreb is real. It also allows a more gradual easing back of Ramsey.

    If the match is going well for us, Wenger might repeat the Zagreb substitution of Ramsey for Giroud with Alexis moved to the striker position. On the other hand if the game remains tight into the 2nd half he will bring in Ramsey for Campbell. If it is going against us, it could be Ramsey for Flamini.

  • Agreed PE. The other option if the game is going well is Rambo for Sanchez – we can’t keep playing him for 90 min every game and not expect a breakdown soon; its inevitable on the current course I feel. We have other options on the left with Gibbs, and possibly the Ox – though everything there suggests it would be too early for him have more than a very brief trot out. But I’m yet to be persuaded by Gibbs as a left mid – he can defend and hare up the flank, but offers little else that I can see further in-field.

  • Yes Ab, Rambo for Alexis sounds a likely substitution if things are going well. Meanwhile am beginning to wonder if this Alexis on the brink is not a tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Everybody still plays him every match 90 mins.

    Wenger’s major preoccupation now, apart from winning the matches at hand, would be (1) successfully easing back returning players, (2) getting insights quickly on best options without le Coq, all before the Dec rush. These will largely inform his substitutions.

  • Agreed PE. In that context I can’t see Flam playing regularly for 3 month without succumbing to injury? I could see Chambers doing it though – and I’d like to see him given a try accordingly.

  • Yep. if course football is quite unpredictable but I don’t think Wenger will buy in January and I see Chambers playing a role that he has grown up playing – as a DM. Flamini will be 1st choice but that will help his gradual development in the role over the next 3 months. He can play as an enforcer and get up and down too. An interesting variation within the squad that I hope to see come more apparent with time.

  • Ab, with all the permutatations and combinations my guess is that Wenger will start Chambers against Sunderland. That’s a game to test him out with. A new state of flux starts for us but something tells me, we are not going to be any worse off.

  • Hi guys… Cheers to those who enjoyed the preview…. I’m up early and saw the end of the nil-nil at WH, plus the first half at Upton Park… Line-ups should be out soon. If we can win this one today there will finally be a bit of separation at the top of the table…

    Of course, match to match anything can happen so we need to turn that ‘if” into a “did,” or something. It gets even tougher when the squad is thin and we feel we need to rotate and give our confidence to players who have yet to fully find their own.

    On that note, the question about getting more time for Chambers at DM is a big one–to the point that some are even suggesting moving players around and into that position instead (see previous post.) If we work on it in training I see no reason CC21 cannot do a job in that spot… And luckily there are a few full weeks of training coming our way. In fact, until the holiday madness sets in, our only extra is the trip to Greece. We’ll need goals in that one so maybe we should start practicing running up a tally…


  • Line-ups are out…

    Arsenal starting XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud

    Arsenal substitutes: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers, Campbell, Reine-Adelaide

    No Gibbs, so only 17 out of 18… 😦

  • Oh dear. Better save comments for later as feeling pessimistic at the moment. 2 points from the last 9 doesn’t suggest we are in the title race, though our position continues to look favourable as others struggle like us. Injury really beginning to hurt us again; I’m tired of this being the case every season, though at a loss to explain why this should continue to happen. The frustration is increased by this being part of the ‘easier’ section of the season’s fixture list; though we are making it look anything but……

  • Listened to game on the radio…

    Sounded like a hard-earned draw…
    ManCity and Liverpool were the only top team to win, so it’s gonna be hard, but at least we have a weeks rest…

  • And the injury list grows…

    Good game and Gabby is good as ever. Somehow Per have added speed. Did someone fix a motor on him?

    We were edgy and the Canaries managed to block our cannon with a wonderful display against us. Not that i am angry at our lads and we managed not to lose a second game in a row means that we have a good defense but our midfield is in absolute tatters. Santi is left with one of his legs being able to work 100 percent in the end and we could have taken our chances but well, its November anyway.


    PS: no cheers today as we didnt win.

  • Definitely 2 pts dropped versus Norwich. The way in which Arsenal physically broken down as the match wore on was alarming. I know injuries are evidentially playing their part and not much can be done about the accidents on the training ground which claim Wilshere and Rosicky but I can’t help but think that had a structured and systematic squad rotation system been put in place at the start of the season: the likes of Mertesacker, Koscielny, Sanchez, Ramsey, Walcott wouldn’t have broken down at different times; the likes of Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs, Flamini and Ox would be more confident and better equipped to perform more effectively; and Arsenal would be able to produce better on field results.

    I’m envisaging fitness problems for Bellerin, Mertersacker (again) and Monreal shortly as a consequence of a lack of rotation. More of a concern though is Cazorla and Ozil who are evidently in that infamous “red zone” and their two most natural replacements Wilshere and Rosicky are long term absentees.

    It’s all just a little bit of history repeating.

  • Flo8,

    Somehow it gets better during December. All too familiar but this season the top half is too close for comfort so if we play like we did in the second half of last season we will have a better chance of winning the league.

    Dreams, you reckon?


  • Saw some highlights and thought that we were well on top despite losing Koz…
    Then we scored and eased up or our energy dropped away…
    We needed to have taken another chance before Ozil’s goal, but our finishing wasn’t snappy enough, I see that as our biggest problem…

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