It’s match day today and another away game against a Norwich side who will be looking to pick up some points in front of their home fans and also move further away from the teams at the bottom. For us, it’s an opportunity to climb a couple of places up to second if we can overcome the Canaries, after United and Leicester drew. City were never going to be beaten against Southampton on their own turf, but the fact that at least one of the teams at the top drew yesterday is a positive for us. Now if Chelski can do us a favour (can’t believe I’m actually saying that) and get something against the Spuds before our kick off, that’d be a-ok by me.
We’ve got to do our bit though. We can’t be dropping any more points during the next few weeks, because we need to start building some momentum ahead of a tricky Christmas period and then a difficult round of matches in January, so a win today has to be secured. There’s no doubt we’ve got the players available to do it, despite the injuries, but I’ll be expecting a strong team minus Coquelin to start today. The usual back five we’ve started to see more regularly, Santi and Flamini through the middle, Özil floating with Alexis and Giroud as two of the front three. Does Rambo get a start? I’d be tempted to do it if he’s fit enough. Campbell puts the effort in, will feel better after the assist against Zagreb, but he’s a limited player when you compare him to Ramsey. Ramsey will offer more centrally, as he naturally drifts inside, which will also give Özil more of an option looking to play those killer passes in the final third.
It probably all hinges on his fitness. But the good news is that the bench will be bolstered by The Ox and there was even some rumours floating around on Friday that Theo could make the subs list. If he’s fit and that’s true, it gives us more firepower, more options to change it and that can only be a good thing.
Alex Neil and his Norwich side are difficult to place. He has openly admitted to changing their style depending on the game, so it’s hard to know if he’ll set his side up to not be beaten and sit two holding midfielders in front of his back four, or whether he’ll be a bit more gung-ho in his approach, by playing a couple of strikers and Redmond in a free role behind. He’s the guy who they will look to for an upset for us, so it’s where Flamini’s role becomes important. Redmond will drift, but the Flamster has got the same engine as Coquelin to snuff him out all over the park and still protect the back four, so his discipline will be key today. He needs to win balls, make sure Cazorla is close to him to distribute to, which will set up our rhythm and dictate whether we can move back to front quicker.
Defensively we have to be better than last weekend too. That was a shambles. I get that people have said we were a little unlucky with the goals conceded, but even at other points in the game, we looked rickety. We can’t have another woeful display like that, because as we saw, you’re always going to get chances against you in the Premier League whoever the team is that you’re up against.
Last weekend West Brok targeted our right hand side and McClean had a very good game. I don’t know if Norwich will do the same, but we just need to watch whether Redmond drifts and if he does, our attackers need to make sure that they get back to double up and support the full backs. Bellerin will hopefully not have another poor game, but he can’t be left on his own isolated against player, if Norwich do target our right hand side.
That’s it from me. I have a christening to go to before the game, so I’ll ask the good Lord for some help at 4pm, and hopefully he’ll sort us out.