After an unusually exciting international weekend for Scotland, Wales, and England, club football returns to the Emirates this weekend where Arsenal host Norwich City.
The Gunners have enjoyed a great start to the season and, bar their opening day disappointment to Aston Villa, have continued their exceptional form in 2013. Only 4 defeats in 26 Premier League games this calendar year, with 1 in 7 this season, has improved the morale at Arsenal and seen them storm to the top of the table alongside an impressive win against a highly-rated Napoli side in the Champions League.
Whereas, Norwich have had a stuttering first two months of the season with 7 points in 7 games, but Chris Hughton has some encouragement with two good performances – against Stoke and Chelsea – showing signs of improvement at Carrow Road.
Ever since the arrival of Mesut Ozil, Arsenal’s prospects for the season have looked brighter and brighter with each passing game. The German international has already created 16 chances for his team mates this season – only Mark Noble has created more with 17 – and has the best minutes per chance created record (21.13) in the Premier League. The influence that Ozil poses in the final third for Arsenal can be seen with the 106 passes completed, second only to Aaron Ramsey who has played 3 more matches than the playmaker.
Against Norwich, Arsenal are expected to be the dominant team and it will be the job of Ozil and the Gunners’ other creative players to break down a Norwich side who will be aware of the danger Arsenal possess. The former Real Madrid star will be influential yet again for Arsenal, and with Ozil already topping the Premier League assists table with 3, he’ll be confident of increasing that tally this weekend.
In a game that Norwich will likely be defending for large periods of the game, Sebastian Bassong will once again be important for the Canaries. Bassong has become a pivotal part of the team since signing for the club last summer from Tottenham and Norwich look like a different side without him. Without the current captain Bassong in the side last season, Norwich conceded 17 goals in the 4 matches he missed – showing the influence and presence he possesses in this side.
This season Bassong has continued, most notably against Tottenham where at times he was a one man wall. Bassong completed 10 clearances that day – as well as 2 blocks and 3 interceptions – and will have to put in a similar performance if Norwich are going to have any hope of securing a point at the Emirates.
- Since playing each other in the same game week (8) last year, Arsenal have obtained 77 points whilst Norwich have obtained 48 points.
- Arsenal have collected 56 points in 2013 – more than any other Premier League team.
- Ricky van Wolfswinkel has committed the most fouls (22) in the Premier League this season.
- Arsenal have only kept 3 clean sheets in their last 14 league games at the Emirates stadium.
Mesut Ozil is fit to play despite limping off during Germany’s match against Sweden in midweek. Santi Carzola is set to return to the squad as well as Rosicky, whilst Sagna will have fitness test.
The only injury concern for Norwich is Anthony Pilkington who pulled out of the Ireland squad last weekend with a hamstring injury.
With Arsenal welcoming back Santi Carzola to accompany Ozil into a team high on confidence and in great form, it is difficult to see anything other than a convincing Arsenal win.
Arsenal 3 Norwich 1