By Bulldog Drummond
This game comes two years to the day since Mr Arteta’s first game as Arsenal manager. As we have noted before he has the third best win percentage of all long term Arsenal managers, behind Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery.
The BBC tell us that “The Gunners have lost just two of their 23 Premier League games on Boxing Day (won 14, drawn seven), going down 3-2 at Coventry in 1999-00 and 4-0 at Southampton in 2015-16.”
And they have some rather desperate news for Norwich
“Norwich are at the foot of the table with 10 points – only three teams bottom of the Premier League table at the start of Boxing Day have avoided relegation: West Bromwich Albion in 2004-05, Sunderland 2013-14 and Leicester in 2014-15.”
Perhaps if it were not Arsenal playing this game we might feel sorry.
Norwich have in fact had two pretty solid defeats this season and one solid win, in the League Cup.
|21 Aug 2021||Manchester City v Norwich City||L||5-0||Premier League|
|24 Aug 2021||Norwich City v AFC Bournemouth||W||6-0||League Cup|
|23 Oct 2021||Chelsea v Norwich City||L||7-0||Premier League|
Now you will note two things here. First, the scoring always happens in a certain period of the month – on or after the 21st day. This month we are playing them on the 26th. Second the score is going up by one goal each game.
Third if the pattern continues for 26 December, as it does in the sense that Norwich is at home, then Norwich should beat Arsenal 8-0. But if this seems ludicrous to you, maybe Arsenal will be Norwich 8-0! We have after all scored nine in our last two games.
We have got five against them a few times, although not since 2004, so maybe this is the moment to pick the heavy duty boots up and knock in a few.
There is a remarkable bit of honesty in the Guardian ahead of this fixture although it hides within it a typical bit of newspaper manipulation of reality. For the paper says, “Arsenal are fourth in the Premier League going into a highly winnable Boxing Day clash at Norwich and it is a position few had expected them to occupy earlier in the season, particularly when they lost their opening three games.”
It is of course true that “few had expected…” but what they don’t say is why the “few” did expect a rise up the league, nor the simple logic that was employed. Yet the reasons were simple to behold.
First, Arsenal had a significant number of players ill or injured for the first game this season, but no postponement of the type we see regularly now, was allowed. Second we brought in a new defence during the summer, all of whom had to learn the “don’t tackle” approach that was highlighted here throughout last season. Third, our final signing did not join the club until the end of August. Fourth, two of those opening three league games were against two of the strongest teams in the league.
In order to get the “few had expected” comment and make it ring true all of that has to be ignored – which the Guardian article cheerfully does.
As for the team today the Standard has
Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney;
Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;
Sports Mole are moving along similar lines but they simply include Tomipasu change the positioning…
Soares, White, Gabriel, Tierney;
Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;
If I were Smith Rowe I’d be a bit cheesed off with that. But then, bringing him on as the opposition tire, generally sends the other side into a state of panic. And he then scores. Sports Mole go for Norwich 1 Arsenal 3. Which would mean a total of 17 goals scored in the last five games.
The Sun doesn’t give us the team but does say that Tomiyasu is “back in contention” for a starting place.
Overall what this means is that Eddie Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe who played in the league cup game, won’t be getting a chance – not with the team above selected and Smith Rowe being once more on the beach.
- Norwich v Arsenal: the Boxing Day preview part 1
- Football is in the grip of the biggest ever takeover, while Arsenal’s debts are growing
- Are Arsenal on track for the top four at the end of the season?
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption