First up is the news that Abou Diaby has undergone keyhole surgery in attempt to rectify his knee problem. Apparently his knee kept swelling up and he couldn’t even run. Arsene Wenger has said it will be March at least before we can expect to see him. To be honest, I can’t see him coming back then, not unless the player is desperate to get a few games under his belt and hopes that will be enough to secure him a place in the French World Cup squad. I can’t see that happening though.
Diaby will then be heading into the final year of his contract, probably, his final year at Arsenal.
Back to the good stuff today as the Premier League kicks off again and we are at home against Norwich, a side who are down in the relegation places and with a manger who is under serious pressure to get his side out of it.
I read this comment yesterday from Mark Lawrenson. Must have hurt him to give us some praise:
Canaries manager Chris Hughton is coming under pressure but I hope the board look at this game and realise that Arsenal are top of the league for a reason, which is because they are playing better football than anybody, have loads of creative players and are scoring goals from all areas.
Few facts for the stats fans:
- Norwich’s last victory at Arsenal was on the opening day of the newly-formed Premier League in 1992. The Canaries fought back from 2-0 down with 21 minutes to go to win 4-2.
- Norwich have since visited Arsenal five times in the league without a win (D2, L3).
- Arsenal have scored 15 goals in the last four home league meetings with Norwich.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six league matches and haven’t lost in any competition since the opening day of the Premier League season, when Aston Villa beat them 3-1 at the Emirates.
- The Gunners have scored in every league game in this campaign. Only Manchester City (17) have scored more goals than Arsenal (14) in this season’s top flight.
- Arsene Wenger’s side have only managed three clean sheets in their last 14 league games at the Emirates.
- Nine years ago this week, Arsenal racked up a 49th Premier League game without defeat. That run ended in their next match but remains a record.
- Norwich have lost three of their last four league matches.
- The Canaries have scored just three goals in their last six Premier League games.
- Norwich have kept more clean sheets than Arsenal in the league this season (two, compared to Arsenal’s one).
- This is Norwich’s eighth league match of the season. Last season they had to wait until their eighth league match for a win – that was a 1-0 victory over Arsenal.
What a game we have ahead of us today, we could finally get to see our two magicians on the ball in the same team as both Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla have been declared fit to play. Having Cazorla back is a huge boost to the squad, as is the speedy return of Bacary Sagna, especially as this is a huge week for us with Borussia Dortmund coming to town on Tuesday.
At the same time in last seasons football calendar we travelled to Norwich and came away with nothing.
This is how we lined up that day:
Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla, Podolski, Gervinho, Giroud.
What a difference a season makes. Today we will line up so much stronger, regardless of who Arsene Wenger selects and our players are in much better form than this time last season.
The goalkeeper is enjoying a great spell, Giroud has improved no end and Ramsey, who was pretty average back then is enjoying the form of his life.
At left back we have two solid players to choose from and our central defenders have formed a very strong partnership. Sagna is playing like he’s gone back a few years and the additions of Flamini and Ozil have already shown what they bring to our game.
There maybe a tasty Champions League fixture on Tuesday but that needs to be forgotten about today.
Today is about two things, Norwich and winning and I really hope Arsene Wenger isn’t thinking of anything else when he makes his selection.
Go get the goals and only then start thinking about taking players off for a rest.
Oh, and the referee is Lee Probert, so expect very little whistle blowing and he’s branded just one yellow and one red card so far this season….