Opposition fan view: Gunners good old days are gone... Norwich City have a chance
- Credit: PA
Our Arsenal fan in the hot-seat ahead of Norwich City’s trip to The Emirates is Chris Wise
Question: Norwich were brave in defeat against Manchester United – but how much of a toll will 120 minutes of football have taken out of them?
Answer: It’s always difficult for a team to pick themselves up from a defeat like that, especially when the hammer blow comes so late in the game. But remember Arsenal played the following day and although their game at Sheffield United was settled in normal time, Norwich will have had 17 hours or so longer to recover. I reckon that should even it out on the fitness side.
Question: Have you been surprised by City’s opening two Premier League performances, given they are fighting against relegation?
Answer: I was very surprised by the Southampton game. After a decent start I thought Norwich were outplayed by a side who looked fitter, more up for it and, let’s be frank, a lot better on the day. City certainly improved against Everton and probably deserved a point, but once again they just didn’t make the most of the good openings that came their way. It beggars belief that a side who can be so pleasing on the eye when on the front foot have scored just one league goal in open play since New Year’s Day (10 games!).
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Question: Which City players have impressed since Project Restart – and who’s been underwhelming?
Answer: Tim Krul has been his usual dependable self while the biggest positive for me in the outfield positions has been the form of Onel Hernandez. He has been a real bright spark for the Canaries and although the end product isn’t always there he would be one of the first names on the team-sheet for me. As an Arsenal fan I certainly hope her is on the bench on Wednesday. Jamal Lewis was excellent against United – good to see him posing a threat going forward again. To be honest no one else has stood out for me – I wouldn’t single one player out.
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Question: Arsenal eased through to the semi-finals, but have nothing much to fight for in the league – how disappointing have they been this season?
Answer: I can’t see them getting past Manchester City in the FA Cup so I think the league is still important, with European football within reach after the encouraging win at Southampton last time out. I think most Arsenal fans realise that the current squad is way below the level of the top two and probably the weakest of what we used to call the big six. I think Wolves and Leicester are probably ahead of them too. There is some promise in the shape of the youngsters coming through, notably 18-year-old Bukayo Saka, but I can’t see them challenging for the title again any time soon.
Question: Is Mikel Arteta the right man for the job?
Answer: I think he was a solid appointment but he must find it frustrating working with the current squad after his time at The Etihad. How many Arsenal players would get into his former side? Aubameyang on the bench, maybe. He has certainly got Arsenal playing a little better, but it can be tough viewing for those spoilt by watching the teams of the first half of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Question: On the City front, relegation seems nailed on – is there any chance whatsoever of survival?
Answer: I actually think Norwich have got half a chance. Although they are effectively seven points adrift with seven games to play the wretched form of the other four sides in the relegation scrap has given them some hope. The collective record of West Ham, Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Watford since resumption is: P11 W0 D3 L8 F4 A16 Pts3. How bad is that? If Norwich can somehow beat Brighton, Watford, West Ham and Burnley they might have half a chance. But I accept it’s a big if.
Question: And finally, Chris, can you give us a score prediction?
Answer: I don’t have much faith in the current Arsenal squad and from what I have seen of Norwich this season they should certainly have picked up a few more points and at least been up with the sides they are battling against. I have got a funny feeling that they may come away from The Emirates with something to show for their efforts. 1-1.