Just to let you know, we have changed how we do match preview’s for a weekend. Rather than trall through every single one, talking about matches we don’t care about, we’re just concentrating on what we think will be the best. Don’t worry, every team will get treated the same, there’s no favourtism here!
The match I’m most anticipating this weekend is Norwich v Arsenal. Based on recent form, this match should be a real entertaining one, I don’t expect Arsenal to breeze through with no problems, but then again I don’t expect them to struggle, I just can’t call an Arsenal match at the moment because I’m yet to see them really up against it now that all the new signings have settled down.
One thing which has emerged apparent, is Arsenal now seem far more united as a team, rather than as individuals as was the case last season, where most Arsenal matches were highlighted with individual brilliance. Don’t get me wrong, there were some fantastic ‘team’ moments, most notably against Barcelona, as well as matches against Birmingham at ST Andrews where Arsenal looked simply phenomenal. There are a few other matches, but for the majority, you always felt as if Arsenal had to score five before they were safe in a match, something which isn’t the case this year, Arsenal look far more solid, more united as a team and with that, I do expect them to get three points against Norwich.
However, taking three points from Carrow Road is easier said than done. Of the three promoted sides, Norwich have been by far my favourite. Like Arsenal, they seem more united than their fellow promoted teams. Like I’ve said before, Norwich have a big squad where the players are all of an equal (ish) quality. Obviously there are a few better than others, but that’s not by much and as a result Norwich are more of a team for it. For example, I went to see Scunthorpe v Millwall one day last year when I had nothing to do and Scunthorpe had Ramon Nunez on loan from Leeds United at the time. Nunez was brilliant that day, he dictated everything Scunthorpe did. Unfortunately, Nunez is far more talented than anybody at Glanford Park and thus no Scunthorpe players could read what he wanted them to do. Many attacks fell flat in the final third as Millwall picked off Nunez when he found he had nowhere to go after his strikers had deserted him.
As Norwich have signed players like Steve Morison, a player on par with Grant Holt, they haven’t got that problem of trying to accommodate their play to suit just one person. Alan Knill had to alter the way Scunthorpe played with Nunez in the side and as a result, Scunthorpe were relegated, not by any means was that Nunez’s fault, but he wasn’t the player Scunthorpe needed at that point in time. For example, if Norwich were to sign Jack Wilshere on loan whilst he recovers from his injury, the young Arsenal midfielder would find himself largely frustrated upon learning the Norwich players aren’t able to do what he wants and thus, Norwich, like Scunthorpe, would struggle. Obviously, having better players helps, but you have to create that by mixing young talent with experience and easing them into the side, rather than just throwing a quality player into a side, it disrupts the karma in a team and is always a negative in my experience.
Along with being a pretty tight team, Norwich also bare the typical trait of being a gritty newly-promoted side whose attitude are always amazing upon reaching the Premiership as they believe they have to fight till the death to earn so much as a point. Norwich carried that exact same attitude to Old Trafford and were unfortunate to not to come away with at least a point, so Arsene Wenger will know full well what’s in store for his side.
Arsene Wenger spoke of having to start rotating his squad in the up and coming weeks to ease the burden of a Christmas schedule. I can’t agree more with rotating throughout November and December, despite it being where Arsenal fell short last season. For example, a 3-1 over Chelsea at Emirates Stadium was followed by a 2-2 draw away to Wigan just two days later when Nicklas Bendtner and Abou Diaby took over from Robin Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas. It was matches like this which cost Arsenal, though I don’t see that being a problem this season. Arsenal’s back-up bares much more of an appetite than last season, with the likes of Arshavin, Frimpong, Park, Koscielny/Mertesacker, Coquelin, Rosicky etc all wanting to scrap for a place in the starting XI. Just think that when Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby return to the Arsenal squad, there will be those two, as well as Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey fighting for spots in central midfield, an absolute dream of a headache for Arsene Wenger. For this reason, I’m not worried about Arsene Wenger rotating for once, providing the attitude of the second-string is absolutely spot on. If Manchester United’s rub-a-dubs can do it, then why not Arsenal’s?
It’s going to be a fantastic match and I predict a 3-1 Arsenal win, I just feel they’ll overcome a Norwich defence which has conceded six in two games, which is worrying stuff for Paul Lambert!
See you in the comments…