At this stage of the season every match is deemed a ‘must win’ irrespective of your league position. Even more so for Arsenal on a weekend when neither of their rivals for Champions League qualification contest a Premier League fixture. The Gunners are currently two points adrift of Tottenham, whom they have game in hand on, and Chelsea in fifth but can leapfrog both and seize a place in the top four. It’s an opening Arsene Wenger is aware his side can’t afford to miss if they’re going to reclaim the seat held on Europe’s top table for the last 16-years. The opening line of Athlete’s single ‘Chances’ succinctly encapsulates the ideology they must work from if complacency is to be avoided. ‘Take all your chances why you can’. Luckily they are coming into form and generating momentum at the right time though and last weeks success at West Brom was their third league victory on the spin.
Norwich’s narrow 1-0 victory of the North London club back in October marked their first under Chris Hughton and began a 10-game unbeaten sequence that saw whispers of Europe filter around Carrow Road. But since that run came to an end just before Christmas the Canaries have managed just one win in 15 games and are yet to be assured of their top-flight status for next season. Last week’s 2-2 draw with Swansea was only the second time they’d managed to score more than once in a league game since December and a struggle to find the net has been their Achilles heel. 14 draws from 32 games has also contributed significantly to their slide although a stalemate this weekend would undoubtedly be welcomed by Hughton.
Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Theo Walcott (hip/thigh) are fit again for Arsenal but last weeks match winner Tomas Rosicky is doubtful with a hamstring problem. Per Mertesacker is banned after his red card at West Brom.
Goalkeeper Mark Bunn is a doubt for Norwich after hurting his groin in last weeks draw with Swansea. Bunn will be assessed before kick off with Lee Camp ready to deputise. Anthony Pilkington is back following a hamstring injury.
What the managers said…
“I don’t mind if Tottenham losing will have an influence or not. And I don’t care about that because I care about our results. We do not have to look at other teams. We just want to focus on how we want to play and to win our games. That is all we want to do — focus on ourselves, win our games and continue to play the way we play.” Arsenal need to forget about Chelsea and Spurs insists Arsene Wenger (The Sun)
“It is not about pulling out three or four of our remaining games and saying those are the ones. We need to try and get something from every game. You are hoping the other results go for you and if we play on a Saturday you sit and watch the Sunday games, but that is normal. Once you start anticipating a team is going to lose or win a game that is a very dangerous way to go about things.” Chris Hughton wants maxium effort in each of Norwich’s remaining games (Norwich Evening News)
Pre-Match Statistic: Arsenal have taken 15 points in their last six Premier League games – a record only match by leaders Manchester United.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Norwich City