Arsenal - Norwich Preview: Hosts seeking first win in four to celebrate Wenger's 900th game in charge
The Gunners are looking for a win to hold off the challenge of Tottenham and Newcastle, while the visitors are chasing their first victory over the north Londoners since 1992
By Joe Wright
Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Gervinho
Martin, Whitbread, Ward, Naughton
E Bennett, Fox, Hoolahan, Surman
Arsenal are expected to name an unchanged side from last week's 1-1 draw with Stoke. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to start in place of Theo Walcott, who is still nursing a hamstring injury, with Aaron Ramsey continuing to deputise for the stricken Mikel Arteta (ankle). Per Mertersacker (ankle) and Abou Diaby (thigh) will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
The visitors will likely return captain Grant Holt to the starting line-up in place of Steve Morison, who began last week's defeat to Liverpool. Kyle Naughton is expected to return at full-back, while Zak Whitbread could be in line for a start after recovering from a calf injury but will require a late fitness test.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Arsene Wenger (pictured right) will celebrate his 900th game in charge of Arsenal on Saturday.
- Having won nine out of 10 in the league since February 4, the Gunners have since failed to win any of their last three matches.
Robin van Persie needs just two more goals to equal Thierry Henry’s club record of 30 in a Premier League season, set back in 2003-04.
- Arsenal have won the last four meetings between the sides, including the reverse fixture back in November.
- Norwich have not won away to Arsenal since August 1992 - the very first weekend of the Premier League.
- On current form Paul Lambert's side are in the bottom three, conceding 11 goals in their last three games
- The Canaries have kept just two clean sheets this season - the lowest number in the top flight.
- Grant Holt has netted 13 league goals in the current campaign, the best tally of any uncapped English player.
- Norwich have scored the joint-most headed goals in the top flight this season (15).
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Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal FC 3-0 Norwich City
- 22.47 %
Arsenal FC 2-0 Norwich City
- 12.86 %
Arsenal FC 3-1 Norwich City
- 12.35 %
|Premier League (EPL)||13 Apr 2013||Arsenal FC 3 - Norwich City 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||20 Oct 2012||Norwich City 1 - Arsenal FC 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||5 May 2012||Arsenal FC 3 - Norwich City 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||19 Nov 2011||Norwich City 1 - Arsenal FC 2|
|19 May 2013||Newcastle United 0 - Arsenal FC 1||EPL|
|14 May 2013||Arsenal FC 4 - Wigan Athletic 1||EPL|
|4 May 2013||QPR 0 - Arsenal FC 1||EPL|
|28 Apr 2013||Arsenal FC 1 - Manchester United 1||EPL|
|20 Apr 2013||Fulham 0 - Arsenal FC 1||EPL|
|Returns:||Arsenal £37.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Draw £70.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Returns:||Norwich City £130.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|Robin van Persie|
He was instrumental in the Gunners’ 2-1 win at Carrow Road in November, bagging a brace to give his side a crucial win as they began a charge towards the top of the table.
That said, the 28-year-old has only scored twice in his last eight matches, and will be keen to add to his tally of 28 for the season on Saturday afternoon against a defence which is far from watertight.
Paul Lambert’s side may have struggled in front of goal in recent weeks, but Holt could prove a real handful for an Arsenal defence which is often found wanting when it comes to a physical battle.
With neither side enjoying a strong spell of form of late, there will be 22 players with a point to prove at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon.
Arsenal have seen their grip on third place become a little looser, with Tottenham and Newcastle just one point behind as the race for Champions League qualification nears the finishing line.
Norwich, meanwhile, have suffered a mini slump of their own in recent weeks after ensuring their top-flight survival, and Lambert will be keen to finish their excellent campaign with another impressive away performance.
There’s no doubt that the greater pressure will be on the Gunners as they look to secure third spot, but with north London celebrating Wenger’s latest milestone this weekend, I see no reason why the men in red and white will allow anyone to spoil the party.