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Ozil Shines, Injuries Pile up and Gunners Struggle in the League

Norwich 1 (Grabban 43′) – Arsenal 1 (Ozil)

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

With Manchester United and Leicester sharing the spoils, as well as Manchester City returning back to winning ways against Southampton, the onus was on Arsenal to put up a performance against Norwich that would see them keep pace with the leading pack.

Aaron Ramsey returned to the starting lineup ahead of Joel Campbell and it was Wenger’s strongest XI. There were some concerns about Alexis Sanchez’s hamstring injury but the manager opted to start the Chilean. Barely minutes into the game, Koscielny suffered a hip injury and was replaced by Gabriel Paulista. The Frenchman has suffered some fitness problems this season and that could be from accumulated fatigue. Sanchez wasn’t playing like someone that had some fitness concerns as he tested the keeper on a couple of occasions but he was on hand to supply a neat pass to Mesut Ozil that dinked the ball over the onrushing John Ruddy. Ozil is in the form of his life, providing assist after assist for his teammates but now, he has two goals in his last two games.

The writing was on the wall for the home side to get back into the game when Robbie Brady was allowed to fire a shot that was parried by Cech but Norwich got the equalizer their play deserved when Brady teed up Lewis Grabban with a neat pass. Gabriel’s positioning was suspect, and the forward coolly slotted the ball past Cech. Norwich were almost two up when Andre Wisdom crossed the ball across the goalmouth but Wes Hoolahan’s shin ballooned the ball over the bar.

Early in the second half, there was an injury concern for Cazorla but he manged to play the entire game. Wenger confirmed afterwards that his midfielder had a dead leg. Arsenal’s injury woes were compounded when Sanchez aggravated his hamstring injury and he had to be replaced by Joel Campbell. Ramsey was having a stinker on his return to first team action and he was replaced by the Ox with 20 minutes or so to spare.

With the game delicately poised, any goal scored would have been enough to be the match winner and Arsenal had Petr Cech to thank as he made an outstanding save for what would have been an embarrassing Gabriel Paulista own goal. In the end, it looked like two precious points lost, rather than one point gained.

In three league games, the Gunners manged a meager two points, which also meant that Arsene Wenger’s side failed to register any win in November. The bigger concern from the game would be the notable absences of Sanchez and Koscielny that would be absolutely vital for the Gunners in their trip to Athens next week Tuesday. On the bright side, Ozil’s upturn in form has been a pleasurable sight all season long and I hope it continues.

On a grand scale of things, the Gunners are just two points off the top, so it’s not that bad but they need to return to winning ways, starting with struggling Sunderland that would be buoyed by their win over Stoke.

Sayonara.

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Norwich Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Can Ozil continue his good form today?

Following the Gunners return to winning ways against Dinamo Zagreb in mid-week, Arsene Wenger’s side will want to register victories in the Premier League and with Leicester City and Manchester United sharing the spoils at the King Power Stadium, a win for the Gunners will put them on 29 points, leveling them on points with Leicester City and Man Utd, as well as going one point ahead of Manchester City. Things are really tight at the top which makes today’s clash an all-important one for the Gunners.

Arsenal has had two great chances to go to the top of the table when they hosted Tottenham and visited West Brom but both chances were blown. It would be shameful if they can’t latch onto today’s opportunity. Shockingly, the Gunners haven’t won any league fixture in November and its turning out to be a bogey month.

Arsenal have won 10 and lost just two of their last 13 top flight away games, while their opponents have won just one of their last eight at home. In this run, Norwich has amassed two draws and five defeats.

Arsenal Team News

The Gunners are adjusting to life without Francis Coquelin, as Mathieu Flamini was deployed in the holding role against Dinamo. Wenger had mentioned that Calum Chamber is ‘educated’ in the role and he gave the lad a 10-minute cameo on the role to test his capabilities there.

Alexis Sanchez is believed to be carrying a minor hamstring injury but he’s odds on to be in the starting lineup today. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, on the other hand, will probably be fit for a place on the bench. It’s going to be interesting to see who the manager plays on the right hand side with Wenger talking up Joel Campbell and more or less confirming that Ramsey may not play in the middle alongside Santi Cazorla.

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee), Danny Welbeck (knee), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (doubtful – hamstring), Theo Walcott (calf), Francis Coquelin (knee), Mikel Arteta (calf), Alexis Sanchez (doubtful – hamstring), Joel Campbell (doubtful – calf)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Norwich Team News

Alex Neil’s men have struggled in the league so far with just one win in their last six games. The other five have ended in defeat with their 6-2 demolition at Newcastle serving as their heaviest defeat in the campaign. However, he’s hoping for a positive performance from his team,

“If we can put Arsenal on the back foot, then hopefully that can lift the crowd and that can then spur the players on.

“We’re the home side and we need to make that we go and apply ourselves as well as we can to try and take something from the game.”

Alex Tettey remains a long-term absentee but the Canaries are set to welcome back club captain, Russell Martin, that missed the Chelsea defeat due to ‘personal reasons’. Kyle Lafferty had a groin injury but he played with the U-21s in his bid to regain fitness and he’s expected to at least make a place in the dugout.

Norwich Injury / Suspension News

Alexander Tettey (calf), Matt Jarvis (knee)

Norwich Predicted Lineup

Norwich City 4-5-1 football formation

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W L D L W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 3 (Ozil 29′, Sanchez 33′, 69′) – Dinamo Zagreb 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez (9)

Norwich

  • Last Five Games: L L L W L
  • Last Result: Chelsea 1 (Costa 64′)– Norwich 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Nathan Redmond (4)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 0 win.

Sayonara.

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Norwich 0 Arsenal 2: The Gunners Seal the Canaries’ Fate

Aaron Ramsey Norwich City Arsenal English Premier League 05112014

Carrow Road (Premier League)

Arsenal: Ramsey 53′, Jenkinson 62′

Player RatingsMatch HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

With half an eye on the FA Cup final next week, the Gunners had absolutely nothing to lose if they fielded a “weakened side” against a Norwich team that was doomed for relegation. However, Wenger chose to stick with his big guns as well as springing up a surprise up his sleeve, as he offered Lukasz Fabianski a rare league start ahead of Wojciech Szczesny that was hopeful of winning the PFA Golden Glove award. Speaking of rare starts, Carl Jenkinson also got a run-out in the side but funnily enough, Bacary Sagna played in the heart of the defense alongside the ever-present Laurent Koscielny.

Before kickoff, Arsenal had already made a bigger points haul than the previous five seasons, having amassed 76, and have finished in the top four for the 18th consecutive season. An outstanding achievement.

Arsenal drew first blood when Ramsey and Ozil worked in tandem to create a chance for Podolski but the linesman’s flag came to Norwich’s rescue. It was shocking to know that Fabianski was making his first Premier League start but he showed great alertness to save Nathan Redmond’s rasping shot. Podolski was at it again when he latched on to a ball from Giroud but John Ruddy was on hand to make a good save.

Giroud and Podolski executed a neat one-two and the French striker blasted a goal-bound shot to the top corner but Ruddy made another top-drawer save to keep the scoreline intact. Ozil swung in a dead ball that was fluffed in the air by Giroud when he attempted a bicycle kick but the rebound fell to Ramsey whose shot was blocked by Michael Turner. Giroud received a pass from Rosicky with his back to goal, and he turns quickly before drilling a 20-yard effort towards the top corner, and Ruddy produced another spectacular save to parry it away.

The Frenchman looked to the stars and figured that it wasn’t going to be his day.

With 45 minutes gone, the scoreline remained intact and one wondered what Arsenal had to do to break the deadlock. It’s not as if they were going to allow Norwich to score the 17 goals they needed to escape the drop.

At the start of the second half, Podolski latched onto a corner but his header went over the bar. Just when we thought that the game was turning out into a stalemate, Giroud dinked a cross to the far post and Arsenal’s knight in shining armor, Aaron Ramsey, picked his spot and fired a sumptuous volley that gave Ruddy no chance in Hell.

DistinctGivingAmurratsnake What a hit! Aaron Ramsey scores fantastic volley for Arsenal at Norwich [GIF + Vine]

A good day for Arsenal became better when Podolski’s loose shot was fired home by Jenkinson as the lad finally broke his goalscoring duck for the club after 55 appearances in three seasons. I’m pretty sure that he would be hoping that it won’t take him that long to score again. With Sagna gone, who knows what the future holds for the lad.

 

Ramsey got a rousing reception when he was replaced by Jack Wilshere, a player with hopes of making Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad. Arsene Wenger brought on more reinforcements shortly afterwards, as Yaya Sanogo and Abou Diaby, yes, the real Abou Diaby, replaced Giroud and Rosicky. This was Diaby’s first appearance for the club in 420 days. The Arsenal fans were delighted to see Diaby make a return and they chanted his name with some glee. It was great to see such stuff as it was the kind of thing that could bring a tear or two out of your eyes.

Fabianski’s concentration levels were in check when he dived to parry Loza’s effort away. On the other end, Arteta almost made three with a free kick that wrong-footed Ruddy but he somehow managed to make a stop to keep the scoreline respectable. Norwich continued to probe late on and Fabianski had to sprint off his line to stop Snodgrass from capitalizing on a loose ball.

Like Jenkinson, Sanogo was hoping that this was going to be the day the gods smile on him to allow him score his first Arsenal goal but Ruddy was having none of that as Sanogo’s shot deflected off Turner but the goalie still made a good save in the awkward situation.

It was a good way to wrap things up before the big Cup final.

Expect a couple of reviews and awards in the coming days.

Sayonara.

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