Arsenal will play hosts to Norwich City on Saturday, with Mikel Arteta hoping to kick-start the season after an abysmal start in August.

Arsenal fans would hope the club took advantage of the international break to regroup and get their season on track after dreadful performances in the first three games. The Gunners have zero points on board from their opening three games and have failed to score a single goal in the process.

Mikel Arteta will be eager to arrest his team’s disappointing form with a convincing win over Norwich City when the two sides meet at the Emirates. Arsenal opened the season with a surprise defeat to Premier League newcomers Brentford and followed it up with dismal losses to Chelsea and Manchester City.

Between that 5-0 loss to City and now, the Gunners have further strengthened their squad with the signing of defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna, as Arteta addressed the troubling right-back position. However, in those previous games so far, Arsenal had missed key players due to injuries and COVID-19 and with most returning, Arteta will be hoping to field his best possible lineup.

The manager will be wary of the opposition, who are in the same boat as Arsenal, with identical results this season. However, further ahead, starting with the Canaries, the Gunners have a set of games which they are expected to win before facing Tottenham in this season’s first North London derby.

Visiting side Norwich City have their own slump to arrest after three losses from as many games in the Premier League so far. After opening their season with a defeat to Liverpool, the Canaries suffered a horrific 5-0 loss to Manchester City and then to Leicester City in the last matchday.

It is fair to say Norwich have not been handed the best of schedules to begin life in the Premier League again and will have yet another challenge when visiting the Emirates. But, the Canaries were hardly expected to achieve anything out of those opening three games. There could be some optimism due to Arsenal’s current form, while Daniel Farke will be encouraged with his team’s display against the Foxes, giving them a run for their money.

Team News & Tactics


Emile Smith Rowe is a doubt owing to a knock. (Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty)
Emile Smith Rowe is a doubt owing to a knock. (Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty)

Mikel Arteta will be delighted as some of his familiar names returned to full training during the international break. After a recent COVID-19 outbreak and untimely injuries, Arsenal have been without key stars during the first three games.

The return of Thomas Partey is the biggest of the news, with the Ghanaian resuming training after recovering from an ankle injury during pre-season. Striker Eddie Nketiah has also made his return from a similar injury and is back in contention.

Meanwhile, central defender Gabriel has regained fitness and is back in training for the Gunners. The Brazilian is expected to start alongside summer arrival Ben White, who has fully recovered from a COVID-19 positive test that forced him to miss the last game.

Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolasinac, though, are out of the game. The Egyptian suffered an injury during a friendly club game during the international break, while the Bosnian sustained a knock against France. Emile Smith Rowe is also a doubt following an illness and could be on the bench if he passes a late fitness test.

Elsewhere, Albert Sambi Lokonga’s status remains unknown after Belgium manager Roberto Martinez insisted it was a precautionary measure for not playing the midfielder against Belarus. His availability will certainly boost the Arsenal midfield, which is currently short on personnel.

However, Lokonga has been listed as injured in Arsenal’s ‘team news’ section on the official site, meaning he could start alongside Partey in midfield. Had Granit Xhaka not received his red card against Manchester City, the Swiss midfielder could have started against the Canaries. Instead, he will now miss the next three games, including the North London Derby.

After securing a work permit, new signing Takehiro Tomiyasu is also available and is pencilled in to make his debut against Norwich. If Arteta feels the game this weekend is a bit too soon for the Japanese international, the other options include Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Maitland-Niles, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Sambi; Pepe, Odegaard, Saka; Aubameyang

Norwich City

Daniel Farke has a few injury troubles to deal with before the Arsenal game, with several key players missing. Summer signing, Christos Tzolis will miss out against the Gunners with a calf problem, while Bali Mumba remains out with the dislocated knee he suffered before the international break. Mumba has since returned to training but is still a huge doubt.

Polish winger Przemyslaw Placheta is recovering from COVID-19 and certainly unavailable for the clash. Additionally, Dimitris Giannoulis and Cristoph Zimmerman are also out of contention with back and ankle injuries, respectively. Farke will make a late decision on Josh Sargent as he arrived late from international duty, while Kenny McLean is scheduled for a late fitness test with a possible knee complaint.

Towards positive news, Jordan Hugill is available again for selection, but it remains to be seen if Farke selects him in the lineup. New signings Ozan Kabak and Mathias Normann are eligible to play and have reported no injuries. Farke will likely let them soak in the experience before integrating the new players into his lineups.

Farke also has some of his experienced and reliable stars available for the Arsenal game, with Todd Cantwell, Teemu Pukki, Max Aarons and Tim Krul all set to play from the start. Ben Gibson will marshall the defence to help Norwich get a result against the Gunners and get their season going while Billy Gilmour will hold the fort in midfield.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams; Lees-Melou, Gilmour, McLean; Cantwell, Pukki, Rashica

Key Stats

  • Norwich have lost their last 13 matches in the Premier League.
  • Norwich have failed to score in seven of their last eight away games in the Premier League.
  • Arsenal have conceded at least two goals in their previous three Premier League matches.
  • Arsenal are unbeaten against Norwich in the previous eight games in all competitions.
  • Arsenal have failed to score in their last three Premier League games.

Player to Watch

Bukayo Saka

Embed from Getty Images

Saka has become a key part of Arsenal literally in all areas of the pitch. He still has not found his place properly this season at club level as plenty has been happening around him from during the summer and since. His late arrival coincided with Arsenal’s dismal form, although his latest showing for England suggests he might be back on song.

Arsenal desperately need to get a win to kick-start their season after three consecutive defeats. Now that Arteta has his full squad back, he will be relying more on Saka to deliver the goods in a game that matters. Saka needs to be at his best and find form in the long run, which could define Arsenal’s season.


Arsenal 2-1 Norwich City

Norwich are sometimes too easy on teams to let them score more freely. We saw that against Manchester City and on the opening day against Liverpool. However, they showed fighting spirit against Leicester, and if they were to perform the same way against the Gunners, we could have a tough, competitive game on our hands.

Arsenal just have not clicked this season, although they might just secure the three points against the Canaries with their squad back together again. The North Londoners might have solid players in defence, but they are yet to prove their cohesion in stopping teams from scoring. Expecti Arsenal to take all three points, but not without Norwich putting up a fight.

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