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Coming this week – “The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal”
Referee Decisions – just what are the refs up to this season?
The only guaranteed way to lose weight programme
By Billy the Dog McGraw
Now when a club of a footballing nature plays against Nor-Wich it is most important that they know exactly where they are going. Many is the time when Tottenham H and Manchester U have lost a game against the club by turning up in Norwich Ontario, or Jamaica, Connecticut, Kansas or Michigan ready to play only to find they were in the wrong Norwich!
But no such fate will pass the Arsenal who have now hired me to ensure that the right city is reached in each game. So I have written my report, pointing out that we are in fact playing at Venta Icenorum, wherein and upon the natives chant, “It’s fucking Icy Nora” as the wind blows in from the Northern Sea.
Local chants are fun. Listen out for the song rising from the stands of
Caistor was a city when Norwich was none,
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Norwich was built of Caistor stone.
Quite meaningless but a local tradition. As is the fact that Norwich hasn’t won a league match this season and have let in nine in their last two games. Leading to the local chant of
Caistor got six and Norwich got none,
So I watched in the rain and sat on my bum..
You get the idea. Indeed Norwich even lost to Liverpool which these days takes some doing. They have what journalists call “defensive frailties” and this is their worst start ever in the top league.
Grant Holt is their star. He is 31 and scored “A goal” against each of Liverpool and Chelsea and indeed got 15 last year. Indeed since we have let in four goals from set pieces except Norwich to get the ref’s whistle and the old boy will step up for a free kick.
For us Olivier Giroud ought to be getting some confidence back with goals for Arsenal in the league and the little cup, and for France against Spain. And Jack is back in the team – although that might be because the young lad likes to travel on buses. In contrast to Ramsey Jack has none of “the scars that the sun doesn’t heal (to quote Bob Dylan) although Mr Wenger, not known as a Dylan fan didn’t actually use that quote.
Arsène Wenger had the little boy play 90 minutes in a game for the reserves in the weak, but says he is still only 80 percent. He also said, “The problem with Eduardo was that he had a restriction of his ankle movement, which is a massive problem for a football player. Jack has none of that – he has not been injured in a specific tackle. He had a stress fracture that came slowly, so he has no memory of having been injured by anybody.
“There are two aspects: one is the apprehension to go into challenges when you have been out for so long. On that front we are at 100 per cent. We even have to calm him down. Then you have the match fitness; he is 80 per cent.”
So the guess is, he is there for the ride and maybe two minutes at the end when we are 6-0 up, and will play in the under 21 game against Everton and then in the Diddly Widdly Cup against Reading. Stuart Pearce meanwhile wants Jack in the under 21 tourney this summer. “We can do with some more players who we can have injured” he said – although not quite in those words.
So to the teams:
Jenkinson. Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Santos;
Gervinho, Giroud, Podolski
The lack of huge numbers of injuries which are traditional for Arsenal has been worrying but we now have Diaby, Gibbs, Fabianski, Koscielny, Rosicky, Sagna, Szczesny and Walcott out.
Theo has an injury to his chest and lungs and runs out of breath. He’ll be out for two weeks. Gibbs will be out for another week. Rosicky and Diaby for several weeks.
The last three games
Arsenal 3 (Benayoun, van Persie 2) Norwich 3; May 2012
Norwich 1 Arsenal 2 (van Persie 2), November 2011
Arsenal 4 (Henry 3, Ljungberg) Norwich 1, April 2005
Our last defeat there was in 1984.
And here’s another fact. Norwich have scored with just 6% of their goal attempts – the worst in the league. We on the other hand are unbeaten in their last seven away matches. And • Bradley Johnson has committed more fouls without being booked (16) than any other player in the division this season.
Norwich have 15 yellow cards this season! Arsenal have six.
Santi Cazorla has created 21 scoring chances for team-mates from open play – the most in Europe’s top five leagues this season. Lukas Podolski is the only player to be substituted in each of the first seven Premier League games of this season and in two days time Mr Wenger will be 63.
So onto the bench, which isn’t a bench but a row of comfortable chairs. Here is a list of possibles….
Martínez, Wilshere, Djourou, Miquel, Chamberlain, Arshavin, Frimpong, Coquelin, Chamakh
Oh and in case you forgot Norwich are managed by Chris Hughton.