Arsenal v Norwich – Emirates Stadium at 17:30 live on Sky Sports 1
With just 3 matches left of the Premier League season, both Arsenal and Norwich, who face each other at the Emirates this Saturday evening, have a lot to play for.
The hosts are still battling out for a top 4 finish, which up until a few matches ago looked a certainty. Then came draws with West Ham, leading 2-0 before coming back from 3-2 down, and stalemates with a poor Crystal Palace side and relegation threatened Sunderland.
The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 7 league fixtures but they are far form their best after a disappointing run of draws has left them looking over their shoulder. A Champions League place for next year should be okay though, but they can’t afford to drop points against Norwich with City to face next week.
There has been no consistency to Arsenal’s performances this season and I believe that has something to do with Arsene Wenger’s doubts as to who his best players and partnerships are.
In defence, Wenger doesn’t seem have much confidence in Mertesacker or Gabriel, neither player getting much of an opportunity to build a solid partnership with Koschielny.
In midfield, injuries have played a major part to limit selection, but even now, with Coquelin, Cazorla and Wilshere fit, it doesn’t come across like Wenger has a plan, leaving fans very frustrated.
Arsenal have lacked goals this year, which is no surprise when your main attacking threat is Olivier Giroud who has scored in just one of his last 20 appearances. Alexis Sanchez has had a poor season compared to last year, but has hit some form lately, whilst Mesut Ozil has been Arsenal’s best player, but has gone off the boil recently.
Despite the North Londoners under-achieving and under-performing, they have the second best defensive record at home and have shown glimpses of what they can do when things click.
Most recently their 4-0 win over Watford, who have the second best defense outside the top 5 teams, showed they can be deadly. As did their 3-0 and 5-2 wins over Man Utd and Leicester respectively, earlier on in the season.
Having watched Sunderland’s 0-0 and Crystal Palace’s 1-1 draws with their hosts, Alex Neil may have some hope in getting something out of Saturday’s match, however it can’t honestly be a trip the Canaries are looking forward too.
Last time out, they lost a ‘six-pointer’ with Sunderland and sit in the bottom 3 with four to play. It wasn’t just losing the match that hurt, but to get beaten 3-0 showed there are a lot of issues to address if they are to stand a chance of earning another year in the BPL.
Alex Neil has had two weeks to work on those issues as they didn’t play last weekend due to the FA Cup semi finals, but with the third worst away record in the division, earning just 11 points from 17 matches, I can’t see them getting anything from this game.
The question here, is what Arsenal will turn up to determine how many they win by.
Norwich have to come out looking for 3 points in this match, they simply can’t just settle for a draw. This could play into the Gunners hands, leaving them more space in attack, allowing them more opportunities (which they need), to put a few past the Canaries.
At this stage of the season, with teams like Norwich battling for relegation, we have to bet with caution. However, on this occasion, I’m happy to side with the favourites on the Asian Handicap betting market, as I expect Arsenal, to win this by 2, or hopefully more.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Arsenal -1.75 at 2.04
Prices correct at time of writing.
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