We travel to Carrow Road to take on Norwich and this is our chance to record the first league win in November (in three attempts).
Frankly, I find the correlation between time of the year and points haul a bit strange, yet the facts tell us November is Arsene’s worst month as Arsenal’s manager. The Gunners average only 1.6 points per game and, whether this parameter takes into account league matches only or all competitive games, our tally will be even worse this year, even if we best the Canaries. We’ll have 1.3 points per game in the league and 1.4 overall. Hardly something to aspire to.
Yet for even that to happen we have to first beat Norwich. Mercifully, the Canaries aren’t the strongest side out there. Alex Neil’s side has amassed only 12 points in 13 games, 2 worse than Chelsea and we are all familiar with the quality of Chelsea’s football nowadays
Thus far Norwich only managed to beat Sunderland, Bournemouth and, surprisingly, Swansea away. However, the Canaries came close to robbing both City (1-2) and Chelsea (0-1), so perhaps there is more to Norwich than meets the eye.
The game brings about good memories: Ozil’s goal, Ramsey’s brace, Jenko’s strike… And very few bad ones.
Arsenal have won 7 out of the last 9 meetings with Norwich, losing only once. This defeat came about in 2012 (and I have absolutely no recollection of it). Further encouraging signs are our away form (10 wins in 13 games, 2 losses) and Norwich’s overall record this year – only one win in the last 8 league games.
Finally, it has to be said Norwich kept only one clean sheet in 13 league games. Arsenal, meanwhile, failed to find the back of the net only 3 times in 13 games and only once away from home (cheers, Mike Dean).
Team news update
“We should have everyone available [from the Zagreb game], the players that played on Tuesday night plus maybe Oxlade-Chamberlain should be back in the squad.”
Alex will most likely slot in for Jeff (who shouldn’t be overhyped before he actually makes a debut at the very least), but everyone else should be the same.
Wenger also gave an update on Arteta and Coquelin:
“Arteta is short-term but Coquelin as I told you is much longer. The scans are positive because he does not need any surgery but it will be 12 weeks.”
“Not for Sunday. He goes through a few tests and steps but the first one was successful. He started running again on Tuesday morning and had no reaction.”
The Coquelin conundrum
The question that has everyone’s minds right now is as follows: how do we survive in the post a-Coq-alyptic world? The manager has spoken about external solutions, saying he’ll keep his eyes open if the right player becomes available in January, but from what I’ve deduced, he doesn’t sound very optimistic:
“We are in a position where we want to do something. If I find the right quality, I will do it.
It’s nearly impossible to find in January a top, top player. But you have your eyes open. You never know, you can have a surplus somewhere or players who do not play and who have the quality. We’ll see.”
For now, it seems our options are Arteta (currently not an option), Flamini (who talked how glad he is to be back in the saddle) and Chambers, whose cameo in central midfield against Zagreb might have been the first step to learning a DM’s trade:
“That’s why I played Calum Chambers, as well, for 10 minutes in midfield to see how he positions and we are happy because he can do it”.
However, it seems Ramsey is out of the equation to step in for Coquelin:
“Ramsey is more an offensive player. I will use him sometimes there [centrally] when the game demands, but is he naturally with Cazorla a balanced pair? Defensively, certainly, it’s a very adventurous one!
…to balance a bit defensively, I use Ramsey on the right. That’s where I will certainly continue to use him”.
Uh-oh. No Ramsey back in the middle it seems. Can’t see Arsene omitting Cazorla and it’s highly unlikely the manager will move the Spaniard wide, having himself admitted earlier in the season Cazorla is a better player in central positions.
Frankly, I expect no more than one change (Ramsey for Campbell), especially in the light of everything I’ve said above. Wenger is unlikely to rotate either the keeper or the back four, I’m also pretty sure Cazorla, Ozil and Giroud will keep their places, while about Alexis Wenger said the following:
“Spontaneously it might not be the best moment to rest Alexis but I don’t know. He had a little hamstring alarm but we will see how he recovers from that.
As long as the guys are in confidence, they score goals. It is always difficult to rest them.”
So we basically have two questions regarding selection: whether Ramsey dislodges Campbell and whether Arsene is willing to give Calum Chambers a shot at the holding role. With reports emerging Chambers trained there this week and with everything Wenger said about Calum, it won’t come as much of a surprise if he starts.
Predicted line-up: Cech – Bellerin – Koscielny – Mertesacker – Monreal – Flamini – Cazorla – Ozil – Alexis – Ramsey – Giroud
Despite our November’s hit-and-miss form I will be mightily surprised should we fail to win the game. You just don’t drop points against a team which gets hammered by Newcastle 6-2.
Jokes aside, however, we looked much better vs Zagreb. This, coupled with Ramsey’s and Oxlade’s returns should see us have enough to grab the three points.
A win will see us go second, level on points with City (who have beaten Southampton) and Leicester (who drew vs United). Now we just need to get this win.
Come on you Gunners
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