Norwich Preview: The Future Begins Now


I’ve never been closer, I’ve tried to…well, I resisted temptation and left “My Friend Stan” out of today’s playlist which can be found on the right hand sidebar or here.

Norwich City have been designated as sacrificial lambs, heading for the slaughter at The Emirates alter this afternoon. Arsenal sit top of the league, the visitors are in the bottom three with three wins all season and one of them came in the League Cup. What could possibly go wrong?

If you think this is a home banker, I would refer you to the corresponding fixture last season. That too was deemed as three points for the taking. It ended that way but not without a considerable amount of huff, puff and outstanding goalkeeping from Lukasz Fabianski as Arsenal were made to work hard for their 3 – 1 victory with all the home side’s goals coming in the last ten minutes. The relief which greeted Mikel Arteta’s equaliser that sunny April afternoon told it’s own story but was the prelude to a frantic series of exchanges before Giroud and Podolski settled matters. The same scoreline without the frenetic ending would be most welcome today.

Certainly Arsène believes he can benefit from another in-form Pole between the sticks today. Wojciech Szczesny’s performance at Wembley was overlooked in the rush to congratulate England on reaching Brazil but it was outstanding in preventing the hosts running away with victory. Speaking about dropping the player last season, Wenger was quick to praise the maturity of his first choice goalkeeper as it capped his annus horiblis,

Every big player has to go through those disappointments and I believe he has matured as a result of what happened last year. I was always convinced he would make it here and the speculation linking Arsenal with another goalkeeper in the summer did not come from me.

He has returned to form, coinciding with the team producing first a solid set of results and subsequently, performances. It is not coincidental that defensively Arsenal improved and the perception of the same by goalkeepers arose. As the team learned to defend more cohesively, Szczesny and Fabianski were not left so routinely exposed by the poor positioning and decision-making of others. They made mistakes and as the last line of defence, the footballing cliche is they will be punished. Now with a more certain pairing at the heart of the back four, a unit that is more settled, the goals against tally is not being troubled so readily. It was something of a vicious circle as the defenders draw confidence from the goalkeeper’s performance and vice versa with the opposite holding true. The problems were resolved and whilst Szczesny may have felt the scapegoat, he took his chance when injury in this fixture robbed Fabianski of an extended run in the side.

The afternoon is set for the return of Santi Cazorla, albeit in the reduced role of substitute as he seeks to recover his match fitness. It won’t be any surprise if he enters the fray as Mesut Özil’s replacement with Arsène hoping to keep the latter fresh for the visit of Dortmund with the former being closer to a starting place. Whilst there is a valid debate over the pairing of Flamini and Arteta in the line-up, surely when fitness permits the supporting trio of Walcott, Özil and Cazorla will prevail and contrive to create the opportunities, as well as burying a few of their own. It is a trio which ought to strike fear into the minds of their opponents as they seek to stifle Arsenal’s attacking prowess. Of course injuries will preclude them from playing frequently in the same side, we know that but you cannot help but lick your lips at the prospect.

Arsène is focussed on other matters. This time last year saw the wheels fall off the Arsenal wagon in spectacular fashion. Against the same opponents. Little wonder he sought to remind the public and his own charges of the dangers posed in matches which are supposedly straightforward. The October international break proved troublesome a year ago, victory at Upton Park was followed by a run of two wins in seven games and some abject performances, notably in defeat at Carrow Road. A fixture against Norwich preceding a Champions League home game against a German side. Wenger could be forgiven for wincing as the realisation of how the run of matches would unfurl. I am sure he hasn’t even given it a second thought; that would mean focussing on the past, something which he is loathe to do.

Indeed, the relevance of such coincidences are to serve only as warnings, measures to prevent complacency. He certainly won’t be using the anniversary of The Invincibles victory over Aston Villa to go 49 matches unbeaten nine years ago, as anything other than a personal memory; that was then, this is now. A decade on and much has changed around Arsenal, it is a different footballing world and whilst we always say things will never happen again, it took more than a century for Arsenal to emulate Preston’s unbeaten run. If you look at the quality of the Premier League currently, it is hard to say that there is an outstanding enough squad who can replicate Arsenal’s achievements. There isn’t even a nascent group that is threatening to be above the crowd, the norm, to suggest a feat being repeated in the immediate future.

For this afternoon, it is difficult to see Arsène making many changes. Quite simply he doesn’t have that many options just yet. Ramsey was highlighted as one who has played a great deal so far this season but it would be a surprise to see him make way this afternoon or before an hour of the match has passed. Jack Wilshere have been underused by England as a result of indiscretions yet it will be a surprise if he is not in the starting line-up. Rotation is a few weeks away, injuries have not yet finished weaving their way through the squad. The line-up will no doubt bear a close resemblance to that which earned a point at The Hawthorns a fortnight ago, possibly Bacary Sagna returning in place of Carl Jenkinson but in view of the opposition in the Champions League next week, it probably won’t be too hard for the manager to give his experienced full back another day or two of rest?

Elsewhere, Dennis Bergkamp has been giving a round of media interviews for you to enjoy during the build-up to this afternoon’s match. You have bought Stillness and Speed: My Story, haven’t you?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.


222 thoughts on “Norwich Preview: The Future Begins Now

  1. Chelsea comeback goal against the rules. Why can’t the EPL use foreign referees? Everyone else can be a foreigner.

  2. Reloaded

    He needs to start sometime, and with Per playing a lot recently and his lack of pace against the likes of RL and PA i think Verm might get his chance…He needs to prove himself or he’ll be a summer departure.

    Bentner looked petty sharp and efficient today. Ruddy kept it from being 5/6 goals.

  3. Very satisfying day.

    Rhubarb split and replanted in new beds. A good picking of chillies, peppers, toms, courgettes and cucumbers from the polytunnel and now I’m making pizza with some of those pickings. Plus a very satisfying performance on the pitch. One could get used to this top of the table business again.

    Good second cider day yesterday as well. Can things get any better?

  4. Good result, performance was a mixed bag – a good half an hour in the middle saw Norwich dominate and we were really quite bad. The periods either side were decent and some of the attacking play at times was ridiculously good, if this team gets a good chance to develop while keeping the steady trickle of good results we should start moving in the right direction. Still no point in getting carried away as the fixture list has been incredibly kind and there’s plenty for us to improve but for the first season in a while it feels like we’re progressing instead of standing still.

  5. so basically it will be Arsenal, Chelsea and City fighting for the title, with Liverpool, Tottenham and United scrambling for top 4. Id say United probably grab it on the last day, 1 point in front of Spurs who by then will have played their most consistent football of the PL era, scored most and won most, yet still are not good enough to get top 4…

  6. Disappointed that we’ve received minimal media coverage, it’s been all about Man U and Chelsea. Hope MOTD is a little better

  7. I for one am glad the media refuses to give us any credit. Let the rest of the league underestimate us as well. We will put them to the sword if they choose not to respect us. We still have two of our best finishers and top scorers left to come into the side. Things are looking great if we can just keep our focus.

  8. Yogi, Raymond Chandler in a detective novel of the 1940’s, had a character describing the private eye as,

    “Es un hombre muy simpatico, muy guapo también, con cojones”.

    The novel, if memory serves my correctly was “Little sister”(?)

    You did a piece on the 29th October, 2011.

    The piece received 657 responses!

    One of the respondees wrote:

    not meaning to dampen the spirits dex..
    dukes right we turned a corner now..
    its like wenger said in his post match..we need to keep our feet on the ground and focus on the next match..
    i think one of the biggest things about this run of form is that rvp has been our best choice of captain for a while..his leadership out there was fantastic we are a totally different team under him than we were under cesc..
    theres a relationship developing between the fans and the team..i think the rvp aura has a massive impact on that..
    not saying that cesc was an arsehole but he wasnt exactley mr arsenal was he..robin has something different hes got that x factor as a leader..theres more heart and it seems no barca dna in it..and its swarming around the club i think..

    I have cut and pasted that little piece.

    We then move on to 26th October 2012, and a bit of a barney between our “hero” and the lamented Pedantic George.

    Your archive is invaluable, Yogi.

    657 responses, down, down to 210 + 1!

  9. Wow, what a fantastic day for us this had turned out to be. I agree with Arsene about that first goal being one of the best team goals ever.

    Dare we hope that this season be different from the past 8?

    Hard to to but naah, not for me. Defensive pessimism is the way forward. No way I’m going through that heartbreak of 2007/2008 season again. This time, I’ll be prepared for any collapse.

  10. Big picture is we’re still only 8 games in, but we’re looking the inform team. I’ve watched a lot of Man u, City and Chelsea games and they aren’t looking that convincing. But, our biggest tests are still to come in the form of Liverpool and Man U in November. Liverpool are looking a slightly different team this season in that they are scoring all those chances they missed last season, but their defence and keeping is still extremely sceptical and given our attacking talent i think if we come out all guns blazing we could get the 3 points. Man u game is all about confidence, if we can get Kos to mark RVP out the game like he did last season i can see us edging it, but a lot of this depends on injuries, suspensions and what team turns up on the day, in that 30 minute blip, we could have been punished by a better team, but we did well and weathered the pressure, despite our pitbull Flamini on the pitch.

  11. ‘Tis oft said the line between genius and insanity is a fine one indeed….


    I understand the cautious approach Henristic. It’s one I share. Personally, I’m just enjoying the football, and it’s an embarrassment of riches we are being served right now (some of our football today was a privilege to watch. That first goal…WOW), beyond that, well, perhaps we should wait and see where we are come Christmas before making any grand claims. Lot of tough games, lot of twists and turns and potential banana skins to come. Hard not to get carried away though….

    I wasn’t expecting us to win the league this season, even with signings, just for us to get closer to the summit. We are on such a rich vein of form though (Rambo is almost unplayable at the moment), and Arsene has real options for a change, so at the moment anything looks possible. Long may it run..


  12. Excuse the commentary for this clip, although the guy seemed to f8cking the goal just as any one should.

    Notice the complete oblivion that the Norwich players feeling while the ball is just moving in front of their eyes.

    This is exactly what the expression: “Didn’t know what hit them” means.

  13. Saw the MOTD highlights and Ramsey is so amazingly good. Hansen called him Zidane-like and really the technique, imagination and power of such a player was on display. Something special to watch. The fantasy is back after going missing a few years and seems stronger than in 2007-8 as the balance of younger players and experience is much better.

    Can’t wait to see how we match up vs. Dortmund! That is going to be a cracker of a game.

  14. I A̶̲̥̅♏ just loving it….I don’t think of seeing a better and well equipped midfield in the EPL like ours AFC. Our next five fixtures if we come out unscathed as I A̶̲̥̅♏ confident we will, then the journey to the EPL crown is on course.

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