Thomas Vermaelen has played just once for Arsenal since the devastating derby defeat at Tottenham, and that was only because Per Mertesacker was suspended for the Norwich game. At least the Belgian international has not fallen so far in Arsene Wenger’s estimation that Sebastien `the squid` Squillachi was preferred to him, but there is a growing belief in the football media that Vermaelen could be sold during this summer’s transfer window.
Jack Wilshere made his latest comeback game against Norwich this weekend, and he admits that he wasn’t quite up to his usual best form but he is glad to have got the 90 minutes under his belt. Arsenal made the fans suffer but finally nailed the points in final five minutes and Jack wants a repeat performance in tonights game against Everton.
“We need to win, we know that, and we’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it,” Wilshere said in the Guardian. “This is big, a really important game, and if we win then we’re in a good position. But even then we’re definitely not over the line, we’ve got some tough games coming up: Fulham away will be tough, and then Manchester United, and we obviously don’t want them winning the league at Emirates stadium, so we’ll be up for that.
Podolski as Striker, Yes, But… By Twig
Until his substitute appearance against Norwich, Wenger has hardly used Podolski at all in past 2 months or so. That has fueled rumours that Podolski could be on his way out with clubs like Juventus and Galatasaray as possible destinations.
Probably to put to bed those rumours, and obviously with Arsenal in dire need of a goal against Norwich, Wenger brought on Podolski, who responded in kind by hitting the post and scoring a long range effort. One cannot deny that Podolski is clinical when it matters, but when played either on the wing or as centre forward he doesn’t really fit in.
After Lukas Podolski was left on the Arsenal bench after scoring against Bayern Munich there have been many rumours saying that there was some sort of rift with Arsene Wenger. Some people were saying that Podolski was injured but that was scuppered when he played 70 minutes for Germany a few weeks ago.
But Wenger finally took Podolski off the bench yesterday in place of the disappointing Gervinho, and he was instrumental in Arsenal’s last-gasp comeback against Norwich, and after the game Wenger made it clear that there was no problem between himself and the prolific German, who scored yet again in the dying seconds.
The Gunners once again made the fans suffer at the Emirates yesterday as they were still 1-0 down to lowly Norwich with just 7 minutes to go. But a hotly disputed penalty gave Arsenal their big chance to level the match and go on to win the game.
Wenger didn’t reveal how worried he was but instead praised the team for their “spirit and nerve”. He said: “We left it a bit late, it was unexpected of course to be 1-0 down at that stage of the game because we were on top and we missed chances.
Arsene Wenger made a couple of forced changes to last weeks side. Per Mertesacker was banned so the captain Thomas Vermaelen was given a chance to redeem himself, and young Jack Wilshere was on from the start, despite a long break from the first time.
The first half was mostly uneventful with neither side seeming to be willing to take control, with Wilshere looking to be short of a pace or two, and there was a little late flurry of corners for Arsenal just before the whistle.
In the second half things certainly hotted up but not the way we were expecting! Gibbs fouled Kei Kamara and suddenly Norwich took the lead as Micheal Turner headed in Snodgrass’ free kick…. Uh-Oh!
Although Norwich are currently in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle, they have caused Arsenal problems in their last two encounters. The Canaries beat Arsenal 1-0 earlier this season, and on their last visit to the Emirates they shocked the home fans by fighting for a 3-3 draw.
So Wenger knows that this game won’t be as easy as it looks. He said: “I don’t expect a difference from the team we faced last season’s draw because Norwich are fighting not to go down,” said Wenger.
“That means you expect a full commitment, complete focus on defending well and catching us on the break. That’s what they did when we played them at their home this season.
Words I Never thought I Would Say- Drop Walcott for Gervinho!! by Dan S.
The last time I went to the Emirates was in February to see Arsenal get knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackburn Rovers. My lasting image was of Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere being the only two to stay on the pitch and thank the fans while the rest of their teammates hurried down the tunnel with their heads down. To be fair the two England internationals had reasons to be less embarrassed compared to everyone else having only come on for the final 20 minutes. In the days that followed Arsene Wenger was strongly criticised for not starting someone deemed Arsenal’s future captain and Arsenal’s brand new match winner, such was the high regard the two were held in. If someone had said just two months later there would be a debate asking should these two men play in a must win game people would question if you were an actual goner, if you then suggested that Gervinho be the one to take Walcott’s place they would of assumed you mentally ill.
Arsenal vs Norwich preview, match line up and score prediction by KJ
Arsenal are in a rich vein of form in the Premier league with 6 wins in 7. However, Norwich at home could be the perfect team to exploit any possible complacency that may creep into our players.
Norwich have taken 4 points from us in our last 3 fixtures with them. They seem to be able to defend well against us as well as having players like Holt who exploit our defensive fragilities. Norwich have only 35 points and with the lower teams playing so well, they may feel that they could get sucked into a relegation battle. This could make them a more difficult proposition with escaping relegation as their motivation.
This weekends game against Norwich is Arsenal’s big chance to finally leapfrog Tottenham and Chelsea into Third Place in the Premier League, and Arsene Wenger will be using all his psychology to galvanise the players to give it their best shot.
Wenger knows that Arsenal have not lost one of the 18 games they have scored in first this season, winning 16 of them, and another quick staert against Norwich will give them the impetus to go on and take the points.
Wenger said last night on Arsenal.com: “Once we are in front, the teams who usually defend against us have to come out and that gives us space to develop our game even better. That shows you that when we start our games in a positive way, we can dominate,”
Per Mertesacker may have done his captain at Arsenal a huge favour on Saturday. The big German centre back suffered a rush of blood to the head against West Brom, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card into the bargain. That meant that Vermaelen was brought on for the last 20 minutes, and he will also start the next game against Norwich City because Mertesacker will be suspended.
Vermaelen may have been wondering whether he would get another game for the Gunners this season, after Arsene Wenger dropped him and Szczesny after some poor performances. Laurent Koscielny grabbed his own chance with both hands, making it unlikely that Wenger would drop him unless he made a mistake.
It is looking like a perfect day for Arsenal in the fight for a Champions League qualifying position. Chelsea are losing at halftime to Sunderland, but we will have to wait and see whether Paolo Di Canio’s new club can hold on. Even a draw would be a fantastic result for the Gunners, as we are one point above them in the table as it stands.
The pressure and injuries has started to show at Tottenham and they were is serious danger of losing to Everton today, but they got a late equalizer. The draw is probably a better result for Arsenal, because Everton are not far behind us, and we don’t want then too close when we play them in two weeks time. The Toffees are now four points behind us, whereas they would have had the possibility of overtaking us had they won.