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Arsenal in the watery marshes of the far eastern zone. It’s all Venta Icenorum.

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Referee Decisions – just what are the refs up to this season?

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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;

Arteta, Ramsey;


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.

But Sagna is more or less fit and Frimpong is also returned to fitness.   Lukasz Fabianski is out for three months having with ruptured ankle ligaments in training for Arsenal on Thursday.  Szczesny is out for two more weeks.
As to the format: Gervinho has got five goals in his last six, Podolski is scoring and now so is Giroud, so I suspect the three will play interchanging roles so that the opposition have no idea who the centre forward is.

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.

19 comments to Arsenal in the watery marshes of the far eastern zone. It’s all Venta Icenorum.

  • Ong Bing

    Norwich has second season syndrome, we will win this game.

    All I hope is easy win, because we must play again in midweek. That is important game.

  • rantetta

    That’s a typically amusing and informative article, Billy-Dog.

    Given the absence of the other Dog, or the now otherly employed “Phil” to (so far) write more deeply on the ref for this match, I’d like to point out that the main man for this match is Lee Probert. Probert was 4th official during the Ars-Nor match toward the end of last season. The match ended 3-3 with the most obvious of penalty’s not given when vP was bundled into the net. The reffing of the whole match was a disgrace.

    Probert was 4th official at Old Toilet when he had Mr Wenger sent to the stands, via our friend Mike Dean

    Probert reffed dodgedly against Arsenal in other matches (Swansea away?, I daren’t remember, and Fulham, perhaps?)

    Just saying…

  • rantetta

    Oh, and who could forget that lovely canary who broke Sagna’s leg during that match?

    The updated ref review in the previous post links to an horrific tackle on Kos6. Check it out.

  • Sammy The Snake


  • Sammy The Snake

    4-0 to Gunners, of course.

  • dan

    I’ll take 2 nil to us.

  • Ong Bing

    Another 3-1 for Arsenal?

  • Sammy The Snake

    Nice relaxing evening for Norwich GK tonight.

  • dan

    A nothing performance.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Quite a pathetic performance, manna from heaven for our critics. We have to learn to stop shipping the first goal so often, we can make it so easy for other teams when we do that.

  • Dan

    Brilliant from Norwich today, but what about your lot? You have Giroud up front but you don’t cross the ball??? Was very disappointed by you today, you seemed to be on your break still

  • nicky

    Unlike all you over-optimistic Arsenal fans, as soon as I heard that Norwich hadn’t won a single game this season, my heart sank.
    Having supported our great Club since the mid 1930’s, through triumphs and disasters in equal measure, in all those years this was just the sort of game that Arsenal have LOST time and time again.
    Sure enough, it was a lack-lustre performance as though the whole team had read the Club’s history and could foresee the result.
    If it’s of any consolation, with no less than 9 players now unavailable for selection, when we next play against a team at the top of the EPL, the only uninjured team that Arsene selects will probably reap a resounding victory against all the odds. That’s invariably been the Arsenal way and we all might as well accept it.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I hope QPR win their next game and Reading also. Certainly QPR…

  • dy

    after one goal down there’s no way Arsenal players not waking up to the task of getting back to the game. But the truth is nothing can be taken as granted. If you think Norwich is the worst in the EPL, think again. There’s no easy match if the attitude is misplaced. Like someone mentioned above, is it AW’s job to motivate the players or the players themselves have to try to outwit and outfought their opponents. I’m in the camp that Mannone isn’t the one to carry all the blame, it should also include those who didn’t close down the Norwich player and letting him the freedom to run into space and finished with a lethal shot. This should never happen.
    Just take a moment to relive last season’s CL home match against Milan, that’s the kind of guts and right frame of mind which earns you a win. Technically it’s a pressing game from start to finish or till the body couldn’t carry on.
    Fabregas, and to be a lesser extent Nasri, leaving, has a far more negative impart on team Arsenal. I really believe that the tremor hasn’t completely disappear yet.

  • Gouresh

    Why is that teams like these [no disrespect] let in a hundred goals prior and the moment they come up against us, they have a 10 man defence. its really crazy that we cannot win such game and then we put ourselves under so much pressure. Does any1 think that we can seriously challange for the title or as a matter of fact any cups this season with the strike force we have?

  • dy

    Arsenal was once remembered as a quick tempo and crisp passing attacking team, that’s the team I loved and since when pundits started to label Arsenal as Barca light. That’s the time the team performance went south.

  • nicky

    While the QPR and Reading games are just the sort of matches that Arsenal lose (being heavily tipped to WIN), they don’t always do so. That is the reason why supporting our Club is NOT for the faint-hearted.
    Do you recall the Carling Cup Final a few years ago versus Birmingham where we were hot favourites, only to lose by the most horrendous of defensive schoolboy errors near the end. That’s the sort of thing I mean.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Nicky, I have been trying to forget that and almost succeeded until now 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    And if I may add: that is the reason why I so love this club because nothing is for granted and you never know what to expect. If it is good the heart is another thing of course 😉