Arsenal is all set to kick off against Norwich City at the Emirates in London on Saturday, April 13. The Gunners will be hoping to close the gap on third-place Chelsea and fourth-place Spurs and widen the point spread between themselves and sixth-place Everton. Chelsea is busy with their FA Cup semi final against Man City at Wembley on Sunday while Tottenham and Everton both have the weekend off. Chelsea was originally scheduled to meet Spurs on Sunday at Stamford Bridge. An Arsenal win will put the team in third with 59 points, at least for the time being as they’d be one ahead of both London rivals.
Everton’s next opponents will be Arsenal on Tuesday April 16 in another home fixture at the Emirates for the Gunners. This will be another crucial game in the race for third and fourth place in the Premier League. The good news for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and the fans is that midfielder Jack Wilshere and forward Theo Walcott are expected to return to the squad with the pair of England internationals returning against Norwich. Well, according to Wenger, they have a 90 per cent chance at least.
Wilshere has been sidelined since March 3 with an ankle injury while Walcott injured his groin while training with England. Wenger said, “Jack has joined normal training since Wednesday and Theo should join in Friday.” On the other side of the coin, last week’s hero Tomas Rosicky, who scored both Gunner goals in their 2-1 win at the Hawthorns against West Brom could miss the match against Norwich. Wenger said he has a hamstring problem and it won’t be known until just before game time if he’ll be able to play or not. One person who won’t be in the squad for sure is German defender Per Mertesacker as he was given his marching orders with a red card in the 72nd minute at West Brom.
Norwich is desperate to take all three points home with them as they sit in 14th place in the league table. They have seven wins, 14 draws and 11 defeats for 35 points. They’ve scored 30 goals and allowed 49 and are just four points above the relegation zone. Norwich has dropped 28 points this season on their draws alone and that’s definitely hurt them. They’re winless in their past five games with three draws and a pair of losses while Arsenal has four wins and a loss.
Arsenal has beaten Norwich just once in their last three meetings and this should give the Canaries a bit of much-needed confidence. They also have a 3-3 draw at against the Gunners at the Emirates and own a 1-0 win over them at Carrow Road last October. Manager Chris Hughton’s side have been on a major slide though since earning their last win on February 23. They managed to beat Everton 2-1 that day and are coming off of a 2-2 draw with Swansea last weekend. Hughton is hoping that John Ruddy and Anthony Pilkington will both be back in the squad for the important game.
Arsenal can’t afford to take this Norwich side lightly and relax if Wilshere and Walcott are back in the team. Norwich has surprised them in the past and since they’re fighting for survival could do so again. It will take 90 minutes of hard work by every Arsenal player on the pitch to secure all three points. If they can get 100 per cent from everybody then look for them to win the match and move into third place over the weekend.