Thank you Pat

Final home game of the season. Final home game where we get to see those famous knees. If as expected, Pat Rice retires at the end of this season, this is likely to be the last home game where he will sit on the bench. I’m sure the players will be aware of that fact. I’m sure they would like to dedicate a win to the long serving Irishman. Which is only right, but that should be half the incentive, the other half will be to ensure we hang on to our place in the league.

Norwich are the visitors and it won’t be a straightforward game for us. Paul Lambert’s team sits in 14th place safe from relegation and knows that they will play another season in the Premier League. The way his team has performed and achieved this season, they have got a lot of plaudits. That he did it with practically the same group of players while picking a few more lower league players, is a fantastic achievement.

Grant Holt grabs all the headlines for Norwich, having scored 13 goals in the league this season. The big man who leads the line and holds the ball up well. But there’s more to him than meets the eye and if we don’t pay attention to him, we might regret it later. While we won away at Carrow Road, that wasn’t an easy game. It took a magnificent dink at the end from our star striker Robin Van Persie to actually seal all 3 points for us. The match also saw Per Mertesacker being physically brushed off when Norwich found their equaliser. Something which the players should be wary of.

As for our team, they should pick themselves out. The same back five in defence with the only positions that raises discussion is which 2 will flank RvP in attack. We haven’t got much choice in midfield to rotate or to switch it around. This being a home game should see Aaron Ramsey continue to start, otherwise Francis Coquelin should be ready to step into the breach. If such an option is to be tried, I’d rather we go offensive first and find the lead, then putting in the more defensive minded player to protect it.

Oxlade Chamberlain—Van Persie—Benayoun

That’s what I prefer to see and I have a strong feeling that Arsene Wenger already has that in mind. Although I could also see Gervinho getting that slot ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It’s not about supporting one over the other. Both are not in the best of forms. AOC though should get the nod as he’s still young and will be fearless and should be raring to go. Gervinho looks like he’s still mentally affected by the penalty miss in the African Cup of Nations final. AOC tends to be direct and that should work in our favour in a home game.

We really have to step up a gear or two for the final 2 games. We no longer have any more points to lose. If we don’t pick up all 3 points today, we could be overtaken by the end of the day. However, we are playing first before all our other rivals. A good win, even if it’s just by the solitary goal, will put the pressure back on the other teams.

It has not been an easy season for the fans this season. It has been a rollercoaster ride with it’s ups and downs. I really hope we win this game because we need that to secure our European place for next season. However, more than most I hope we win because those fans and all of us as well, deserves a performance that merits our support of them through this trying season. After all that, I hope there’s a really good sending off from both sides at the end of the game.

One last home show for the shorts and knees.