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Hi Phil, I'm Abou

Premier League returns today. Hurrah!! On current form and given it’s Norwich we have to play today, one would think 3 points is a guarantee. Yet, this match may not be as easy as one thinks. If it turns out to be as easy as our last game, I’m all for it but the number suggest otherwise.

In their first season back in the Premier League since 2004/05 season, Paul Lambert has managed to integrate his team seamlessly back at the elite bunch. Sitting pretty in 9th place, they are unbeaten at Carrow Road. Even more remarkable, Norwich has only lost once at home in those 5 leagues games, dropping 3 points against West Brom.

7 goals has been conceded in Norwich’s last 3 league fixtures and that is at least one stat which could work in our favour. That is of down to the fact that in the similar 3 games, Arsenal has plundered in 11 goals. One could say, it will be an interesting battle between a defence that is not particularly confident versus an attack who are at the top of their game.

Just like what we saw with Blackpool last season and to a certain extend, Hull in the past, teams that come up from the Championship can use their momentum from the promotion to make a positive start to the Premier League. Lambert has moulded his team into a side that plays decent football and prefers to keep it on the ground. That being said, Grant Holt is a huge figure up front and we’ll have to be wary of his physical presence.

I had a look through the Norwich squad and I’m hard pressed to give you another name who could be a threat to us. The closest I managed to find is Anthony Pilkington whom you might remember from the Huddersfield game last season. In the midfield role, he has already contributed 4 goals and 1 assist. That is a number that is almost the same as our midfield trio. (Song – 1G 2A , Arteta – 3G 1A , Ramsey – 1G 4A). Pilkington is someone we should keep an eye out for.

On the Arsenal front, given the last team update, the only plausible change should be the inclusion of Johan Djourou for the injured Carl Jenkinson. The bigger decision would be whether Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny plays alongside Thomas Vermaelen. Koscielny is the fresher of the two having last played on Friday while Mertesacker featured for Germany in their Tuesday’s clash. While it’s nice to rotate, I do believe that Arsene Wenger will have to make his mind up on his first choice as the centre of defence is rarely the positions to tinker with.

Szczesny
Djourou—Koscielny—Vermaelen—Santos
Arteta—Song—Ramsey
Walcott—Van Persie—Gervinho

It’s up to the team to continue the positive run of results prior to the international break. We were building ahead of steam and the temporary break would not have helped in that regard. No matter how it is, Wenger will have to ensure that his team retains the same belief and performance from 2 weeks back. It’s hard work in overcoming the early season stumble and it would be such a waste to let that change just because of the international matches.

While I realise there’s a small matter of securing our Champions League progression to the next phase on Wednesday, I hardly think today’s game is the right time to be thinking about resting players. If a significant lead is established, then we can start to think about the following game. A win could put us up at 4th spot after this weekend. Though for that to happen, we will have to win by 7 goals and other results to fall our way.

So that’s it, there’s really nothing else to add to this. There’s some birds which needs to be squashed today. How we do against the Canaries will show whether we’ve really recovered from the dismal start to the league campaign. All that’s left to say is,

Up The Arsenal!!!

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