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Premier League

  • November 19, 2011
  • • 7:45 AM
  • • Carrow Road, Norwich, Norfolk
  • Referee: P. Dowd
  • • Attendance: 26801

Premier League Preview: Norwich City - Arsenal

Premier League Preview: Norwich City - Arsenal

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Arsene Wenger's team is on the way up after a dismal start and will hope Robin van Persie can fire it to another win against the Canaries in a match that promises goals



Naughton, Martin, Barnett, Tierney
Fox, Johnson
Bennett, Hoolahan, Pilkington


Djourou, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Santos Ramsey, Song, Arteta
Walcott, Van Persie, Gervinho

Norwich City has suffered a series of injuries to its back four over the opening months of the season and while manager Paul Lambert hopes the likes of Zak Whitbread, Daniel Ayala and Elliott Ward are close to returns, none are likely to be thrown straight back into the side here. That means Russell Martin and Leon Barnett should continue at center back – that new partnership enjoyed a promising start but went on to allow six goals in the Canaries’ previous two matches.

If Norwich opts for a 4-4-2, Grant Holt will continue to partner Steve Morison in attack but expect David Fox to replace the former and drop to midfield if its more common 4-2-3-1 is preferred.

Arsenal could remain unchanged, with the clean sheet earned at West Bromwich Albion before the international break enough to keep Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen ahead of Per Mertesacker at center back. Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson are both sidelined, so Johan Djourou is likely to slot in at right-back.

Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby are also long-term absentees, but Arsene Wenger hopes to be able to include Kieran Gibbs and Marouane Chamakh amongst his substitutes after injury.

  • Arsenal’s last visit to Carrow Road, way back in August 2004, was a successful one. Jose Antonio Reyes, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp were the scorers in a 4-1 away victory, with Darren Huckerby on the score sheet for Norwich.
  • Only two players – Adam Drury for Norwich and Manuel Almunia for Arsenal – in the match day squads for that game remain at the two clubs today. Both are available for selection on Saturday, but are not likely to feature.
  • Perhaps the most unlikely scoreline on Saturday is 0-0. Neither side has played out a scoreless draw this season and Norwich has played 29 league matches since its last stalemate.
  • Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson will hope to make an impression in this match against his boyhood club. Born in Hackney, Johnson was released by the Gunners as a 15-year old and picked up by Cambridge United.
  • The Canaries have not been afraid to mix up their approach in order to adapt to life in the Premier League. Only three sides – Stoke City, Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers – have completed less passes than Norwich’s 2,907 so far this season.
  • Paul Lambert’s team has conceded three goals in each of its last two Premier League games, against Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa. Prior to that, however, it had conceded three or more just once, and that came against Chelsea courtesy of two late goals following the sending off of goalkeeper John Ruddy.
  • Since losing to arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the beginning of October, Arsenal has won four straight Premier League matches, taking it up to seventh place in the table after a shaky start to the season.
  • Robin van Persie, perhaps the most in-form striker in world soccer, has played a vital role in that run. The Dutchman has scored the winning goal in every single one of those games, with eight tallied in total in the four matches.
  • Van Persie spoke of his “connection” with Theo Walcott this week but Arsenal’s most proficient set-up man has been winger Gervinho, whose five assists so far put him in joint second place in the Premier League.
  • Arsenal’s midfield possesses the league’s third and fifth most frequent passers, and both are likely to start at Carrow Road. Aaron Ramsey has completed 715 passes with an 88% accuracy rate, with Mikel Arteta slightly more accurate at 90% having made 10 fewer passes.
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Players to watch

A. Pilkington

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

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R. van Persie

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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