Iwan Roberts: Canaries can get something from Arsenal trip

Steve Morison of Norwich scores against Arsenal

Steve Morison reacts after making it 3-3 at The Emirates in May 2012 - the last time Norwich City brought a point home from Arsenal - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

When I saw Norwich’s fixture list back in June I had the feeling their best opportunity of getting their first point or points on the board would come in the fourth game, against Arsenal - even though it's away from home. 

I looked at those first three games and didn’t think the lads would pick up anything, but could well get something from The Emirates, even though it hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Canaries in recent years - they've lost on seven of their last eight visits to Arsenal.

I look at this Arsenal side and, even though they spent more in the transfer window than any other club, they lack quality, especially in defensive and midfield areas, and I think they can be got at.

To be honest, I didn’t expect them to be in the position that they are after three games - rock bottom of the Premier League and yet to score a goal this season. The pressure is building on Mikel Arteta.

If Norwich can perform like they did for large spells of the Leicester game, they are more than capable of travelling to north London and getting their first Premier League win since they beat Leicester back on February 28, 2020.

Daniel Farke manager of Norwich City during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London

Will Daniel Farke line up with three central defenders at Arsenal? - Credit: Focus Images/Focus Images Ltd

I might be wrong, but I’ve a feeling that Daniel Farke might go with three central defenders on Saturday, with Ozan Kabak joining Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson. I look at both full-backs and they could benefit from this as they are not as strong defensively as they are going forward, looking to create, and we all know that in this system the width comes from your wing backs. This would then allow closer support for Teemu Pukki or whichever striker Daniel goes with. You can even play with two strikers in this system, so it's not as defensive a system as people might think it is. 


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I made my debut for Watford back on March 29, 1986, at Vicarage Road against Ipswich. My second game should have come two days later as we had Arsenal away at Highbury. I’ve a feeling it was the Easter weekend with games coming thick and fast, but something happened and I was left out of the team by Graham Taylor. In all fairness, it could have been so much worse than being dropped, he could have sacked me! 

After the Ipswich game on the Saturday about six of the young lads, including, myself had booked a table at a pizza place in St Albans. Nothing wrong with that - we had to eat, after all - and pizza is quite good for you after a game. However, when we got to the restaurant we were far too early so went to the pub next door for a quick drink to kill a bit of time. That was the big mistake we made. 

Even though none of us was drinking alcohol we shouldn’t have been in a pub as Watford had a game in 48 hours time and that's a rule at every club. Even though I was the only one out of the six who was going to be involved at Highbury on the Monday, none of us should have set foot in a public house. 

To cut a long story short, we were spotted in the pub and word soon got around to Tom Walley, our youth team coach, who hated his youth players going anywhere near a pub.

We were all in for training on the Sunday and the rumour started that Tom knew everything, he was on the war path and was going to see Graham Taylor. 

Graham, after speaking to Tom, called a big meeting in the home changing rooms at Vicarage Road. All the pros were in there and so were we, the youth team lads. It’s fair to say he absolutely tore into us, especially Tim Sherwood as he thought Tim would have been the ringleader. One by one he came up to us reading the riot act and threatening to sack us all, saying how we’d bring shame on our families. Honestly, I’ve never been so scared. 

Thankfully, we were all given a second chance - but only because we’d been drinking soft drinks in the pub. Otherwise it would have been P45 time. We were all fined two weeks wages - it was about £25 a week for an apprentice back then. However, in front of everyone he looked at me before ending the meeting and said my foolishness had cost me a lot more than two weeks pay  because he wouldn’t be starting me against Arsenal the next day. My best mate, Malcom Allen, would be taking my place and I’d be taking his place on the bench! 

I learnt my lesson there and then: never ever did I set foot in a pub 48 hours before a game in 20 years of playing professional football. 

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