Arsenal should be more than confident when they travel to Norwich on Saturday (5.30pm BST).
However the international break couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Londoners, who were just gaining momentum. Arsenal had won away at West Ham in impressive fashion and Olivier Giroud had finally scored his first league goal.
The West Ham game was the perfect response to the forgettable home defeat to Chelsea the prior week. Normally, it is against teams like West Ham where Arsenal struggle and Sam Allardyce has plenty of history with beating Arsene Wenger’s team. But Arsenal came from behind to grab all three points and did so was some exquisite football.
The big talking point is Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman’s first league goal for Arsenal has been a long time coming and you could see the weight lift off his shoulders following his equaliser. Giroud also set up Theo Walcott for Arsenal’s second goal on the day.
The international break was also good to Giroud as he scored a late equaliser for France against Spain with the last play of the game. It was a powerful header that saw the Arsenal striker do what Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema had failed to do for much of the game.
Two memorable moments for Giroud in the last couple of weeks, Arsene Wenger simply has to start him over Gervinho against Norwich.
Santi Cazorla has also continued to impress, getting into the starting XI for Spain and rifling home an outstanding shot against West Ham. The Spanish midfield technician continues to pull the strings for Arsenal and he was excellent in their last league game.
Disappointingly for Arsenal, Theo Walcott picked up an injury while on international duty. He’s likely to be out for the next five weeks at least.
Wojciech Szczesny also remains on the sidelines with word of another three weeks out doing the rounds. Lukas Fabianski has also picked up a fresh injury and is likely to see a number of months on the treatment table. Vito Mannone will continue in goal for Arsenal.
Reports during the week suggested that Jack Wilshere was talking up his readiness to be included in the squad for the trip to Norwich. Wilshere has played in a couple of reserve games and appears to be doing well to get back to full fitness.
However, Arsene Wenger is unlikely to jump the gun on this one. He’s fully aware how long the player has been out and it was this sort of enthusiasm from Wilshere that saw him aggravate the injury two seasons ago.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also scored during the international break for England against San Marino but lost his starting place against Poland. With Walcott, Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky all missing from the Arsenal midfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to feature this weekend.
Norwich have had a really poor start to the season and they’re currently in the relegation zone in 19th. The best they’ve been able to put together is three draws, although one came away to Tottenham last month.
But aside from that, whenever they’ve been put up against good opposition this season they’ve lost. Fulham, Chelsea and Liverpool have combined for 14 goals against Norwich, while Newcastle also picked up a 1-0 win.
Norwich v Arsenal Betting Tips
This fixture last season saw Arsenal (3/5 to win this match with Pinnacle) come from behind to take home all three points following two goals from Robin van Persie. Norwich (11/2 with SkyBet, Betfred, BetVictor) were particularly stubborn on the day and John Ruddy had an excellent game in goal. Grant Holt is currently Norwich’s top scorer with a lowly two goals.
- I don’t fancy the draw (biggest 7/2 Stan James) and can only see an Arsenal win this time. They have quality in attack and have shown against Southampton what they can do against greatly inferior opposition. Bet on “Arsenal to win by three or more goals” @ 10/3 with SkyBet.
- Olivier Giroud will be full of confidence and is sure to cause the Norwich defence plenty of problems. Remember, he has struck up a wonderful understanding with Cazorla in the final third. You could bet on him to score anytime (best at 13/8 with Blue Square) but I am going for a bet on Giroud to be first goal scorer @ 5/1 (Betfred, Blue Square, Stan James, Ladbrokes).