Having slipped to fourth place after picking up just one point from the last six available, Arsenal will be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League with a win away to Norwich City.
The home side made life difficult for Chelsea last time out, hanging in there well until they switched off at a free-kick and allowed Diego Costa to take advantage and score the game’s only goal. It was disappointing for manager Alex Neil, who deserves credit for finding a way to make his team tougher to break down amid a difficult run of fixtures in recent weeks, but just as he did at Manchester City at the end of October, the Scot was left to rue a defensive lapse.
What the Canaries need more than anything else is a regular goalscorer. Dieumerci Mbokani has been the man in favour of late and looks like he can be a real handful for opposition defences, but will have to rely on quality service from Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Brady. Meanwhile, Cameron Jerome has never really managed to find the net on a regular basis throughout his top-flight career. Norwich must take the chances that come their way here, as they unlikely to see the lion’s share of possession.
Arsenal won comfortably against Dinamo Zagreb to keep their hopes of making the knockout stages of the Champions League, but their last domestic outing could not have been more frustrating. Well in control at 1-0 up away to West Bromwich Albion, they contrived to concede two soft goals and find themselves behind at half-time, and try as they might, they were unable to force an equaliser with Santi Cazorla’s fluffed penalty leaving an even more bitter taste in the mouth.
But Tuesday’s win over the Croatian champions was much more of a convincing showing, as Cazorla was excellent alongside the totally in-form Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, who finished his evening with a brace. This is probably the club’s best chance to win the Premier League for some years, so as they contest such a competitive race at the top, they cannot afford to be as profligate as they were at West Brom for many other occasions this season.
Captain Russell Martin is expected to replace Ryan Bennett in the centre of the Norwich defence after missing the last two games. Alexander Tettey is still out with a groin injury.
Aaron Ramsey returned from the sidelines on Tuesday and will be part of the Arsenal squad along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is also fit again.
Last Meeting: Norwich’s inevitable relegation to the Championship was confirmed on the final day of the 2013-14 season as Arsenal cantered to comfortable 2-0 victory at Carrow Road. It took until the second half for the deadlock to be broken, as Aaron Ramsey finished a fine individual season with a terrific volley, while Carl Jenkinson sealed it eight minutes later with a close range finish after a shot was deflected across the face of goal.
Played for both – David Bentley: A winger who came through the Arsenal academy, Bentley was mainly restricted to appearing in the cup competitions for the Gunners, making just the single Premier League appearance for the club. To gain top-flight experience, he was sent out on loan to Norwich for the 2004-05 season, and he managed two goals in 26 outings as the Canaries were relegated on the final day.