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Arsenal v Norwich City; Match Preview

After a rather dull interlull combined with a server migration (and mandated facelift) we’re back with football as Arsenal head on down to Carrow Road to taken on quickly falling Norwich City.

It may be difficult to recognize the side that came into the Emirates at the end of last season and forced the Gunners into a 3-3 draw. Their manager, Paul Lambert left in the summer and was replaced by nice-guy Chris Houghton, who cannot seem to work the magic he brought to Newcastle for Norwich. When it goes wrong for this team it goes so very wrong.

The Canaries used their 4-4-1-1 effectively against Chelsea even if they came out on the negative side of things. It’s been rough going for them as they transition from the “flamboyant” style brought in by Lambert to the more traditional british style of Houghton.  Goals are at a premium for the yellow and green and keepiong them out of the back of the net also seems to be an issue as they have let in 5, 4, and 4 at various times during the season.

The battle of Holt versus Mertesacker looks to be a tasty one as Holt will look to leverage his physicality over the technical German.  Additionally, Kieran Gibbs is still out with the injury suffered during the West Ham game, so Andre Santos will start and he will have to be in form and get into the flow right away. With Santos in the squad it’s likely Podolski will coming back a lot to help provide cover on the left side.

For Arsenal the task is simple – don’t let the rust of the international break sit around on you for too long. It’s been common place for Arsenal to suffer from approaching games after the interlull with less than the required emphasis and focus. And in the past that has hurt the Gunners. The interesting thing is with this current squad, with one break down previously, the squad came back and performed solidly. They will need that as well.

There should be no attempt to overlook this opponent as has happened in the past. Doing so spells danger especially, when facing an opponent that has yet to win their first match of the season.

Vito Mannone will continue in goal and at this point is the club’s only season ‘keeper as Szczesny is still about 2 weeks away and Fabianski will have surgery on his shoulder which will likely keep him out for 3 months. Additionally, Theo Walcott and Laurent Koscielny will be absent from the squad after suffering knocks during the international break.  Walcott bruised his back and Koscielny is suffering from back pain.

Normally these types of absences would be cause for concern but that isn’t really the case at this time as, there are players, capable players available to come in and do as good or better job than the ones that are out. Koscielny has already made way to an in form Mertesacker (who scored for Germany this break) and Theo Walcott was a the constant super-sub who’s space will likely go out to Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain while Gervinho starts on the right.

There is a slight concern for Santos who hasn’t played consistently since coming back from an injury suffered last season. But before he went out, he was making a very strong case to be the full time starter at left back. Yes, its true he seems more a winger, than a defender but as he wore on, he got better and better and if he gets a run again there is hope (maybe it’s just a glimmer) that he will get there again. The good thing is, that Podolski has a good work ethic and gets back when he needs to and will provide solid cover for the Brazilian.

Still as any season will show you, anything is possible and Arsenal need to win (it’s not a must win) to keep pace with the leaders. The task looks easy and it is very hard not see a solid Arsenal win here but I would argue against overlooking any opponents.

How the Match Should Play Out:
Arsenal on the road, well we shouldn’t expect anything other than their typical style and form. They will look to take the Carrow Road crowd out of it and put the Canaries on their back heels early. Even with Walcott and Gibbs out there is enough the side to cause problems for any back four and as bad as that back four has been, Arsenal can provide a whole lot of challenges. As we mentioned previously look for Holt to try and take on Mertesacker, who while he scored for Germany was also on the field as they allowed 4 goals to bring Sweden back in for a draw. The key is how well the defense handles the pressure.

Players to Watch:
Arsenal: Olivier Giroud. He has now managed to score for both club and country. If he is coming around with his scoring touch it will be interesting to see if he becomes the forward that Arsenal so desperately want him to be.

Norwich. Sebastien Bassong. It would be easy to say Holt but with as woeful as Norwich’s defense has been, with Bassong in the lineup it improves.

Probable Starting XI:

Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal:  Sagna (match fitness), Szczesny (ankle), Walcott (chest),  Koscielny (back), Diaby (thigh), Gibbs (thigh), Fabianski (ankle), Rosicky (leg),

Norwich: Butterfield (match fitness), Kane (ankle), Lappin, (ankle)

Leading Scorers:
Arsenal:  Gervinho 3

Norwich: Holt 2

Assist Leaders:
Arsenal: Cazorla 2, Podolski 2

Norwich: Pilkington 1, Howson 1, Holt 1, Barnett 1

Last Meeting (EPL):
Arsenal: 3

Norwich: 3

Goals For:
Arsenal (away): 1.5

Norwich (home): 1

Goals Against:
Arsenal (away): 0.5

Norwich: (home): 2.8

Last Five:
Arsenal: WWDLW

Norwich: DDLLL

Goal Difference:
Arsenal: 8

Norwich: -12

Match Official:
Referee: Lee Probert (Matches: 5. R0 Y15)

Broadcast Information:
US: Fox Soccer Channel 12:30PM


GAMEDAY CHAT: It’s Open!!!!!!

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 3

Norwich: 0

The Final Word:

You may notice it looks a little different around here. Well, you are very observant. With our move to a new server and hosting company, there were issues with the former theme that we couldn’t fix. We tried. We spent countless hours on with tech support, chatting over skype to get it fixed and we couldn’t. Rather than kill ourselves over it, we made the decision to use a new theme. So here we are.

There is still stuff to do with this theme. We still don’t know how certain plug ins and stuff are working with the theme and certain elements of the home page are going to be worked on. You might also find that you can’t reply to a comment. You can comment on a post, but right now you can’t reply to a comment in a post. So everyone has to comment on the post for now.

Also Gameday Chat has been upgraded and we’re going to be customizing that at some point. Right now however, the key is to get it running. Just a word about that – the chat room is open and can be used during game time. But you will appear as “guest###.” To change your name to your handle – simply type “/nick  “name” The name should be what you want to be called (no quotes needed).

We ask you bare with us. We didn’t expect to have to do this facelift. But we did and now we are trying to get everything working right.

Thank you all for your understanding.  Stay Goonerish


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