Saturday 20 October 2012

After The Interlull | It's Norwich Away!

Two whole bleeding weeks without any real football. Really wasn't much else to do with all the extra time I had on my hands but to hole up in my man cave at every opportunity and tidy up all sorts of things I keep putting off for when I can find good time. Did come up from my semi-hibernation for 90 minutes last Saturday to watch the Super Eagles spank the Lone Stars of Liberia 6-1 to qualify for next year's African Cup of Nations.

Also took the time to get familiar with Fifa13 as well. Haven't been able to find much time for it since my ordered copy arrived. Have won some and lost some. While I like some of the new features, I really am pissed off with what EASports did with the first touch control -it's so difficult to bring the ball under control with the first touch now. Really will take some getting used to.

Anyway, we've got our Arsenal back today against Norwich City after that unnecessary two week international hiatus that more often than not decimates our ranks. This time it's Theo Walcott who ran into a Wrestlemania-type dropkick from the San Marino goalkeeper in England's World Cup qualifier. Word on the grapevine is he's been coughing up blood and may have a bruised lung. Poor lad! Must have been told only smoking damages the lungs and now this.

Koscielney is the other casualty of the international break. Gave everyone a scare before France's game against Japan when news got out that he had been injured in training but that was soon dispelled after he passed a medical examination. He went on to feature for France for 90 minutes in their 1-1 draw against Spain but somewhere in between he developed a back injury that will keep him out for an indeterminate time. So unless a black cat crosses Wenger's path or someone breaks a mirror in the dressing room to rule either Per or Vermaleen out of the game, we are sure both will be starting in central defense.

Gibbs was injured in the game against West Ham before the international break and it looks like two weeks wasn't enough to mend his broken heart thigh. So in his absence, the stocky, huggable, cheery, Brazilian, Andre Santos -whose defending is questionable- will be manning the left back position from the start.

Diaby is still out and may be out for at least another couple of weeks so the injury that had him hobble off against Chelsea looks like it was more serious than we were told at the time. But then it's Diaby and one thing does tend to lead to another with him.

Shortly after Wenger's press conference yesterday where he said Jack is at least one junior game away from return to the first team, his agent took to Twitter to inform the world Jack is in the squad for today's game against Norwich. Not sure what exactly to make of this contradiction but I'll err on the side of caution and go with what Wenger said. May be he intended to give the faithful a pleasant surprise and the damned agent went and spoilt it. It's my guess that even if he's in the squad it will be part of his re-integration back into the first team and he may end up sitting the whole game out. We wait -and watch.

Rosicky seems to still be another couple of weeks away from a return to first team duties but Sagna has come off alright from two full unofficial games and should be ready for first team duty though he will likely be starting from the bench.

Wojciech Szczesny still ails so Don Vito Corleone Mannone retains his position between the stakes. It's worth mentioning that the official second choice keeper, Fabianski also got an ankle injury during the break and will be requiring surgery that will rule him out for three months so unless Szczesny makes it back soon we may have a goal keeper crisis waiting to happen. But let's not cry wolf.

So much for my prediction that we'll have some semblance of a full squad after the international break. We do seem to be worse off than we were before the break

So the team that lines out against Norwich will be looking something like Mannone, Jenks, Per, Vermaleen, Santos, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla, Poldi, Giroud and Gervinho. And the bench, Ox, Sagna, Djourou, 

Arteta and Ramsey should be well rested from not playing during the international break. Giroud should be riding high on the last minute goal he scored against Spain to pull France level and the one that broke his Premier League duck against West Ham just before the break. Ox had one less day to rest after England's game was moved from Tuesday to Wednesday so he will likely play just a bit role today. 

Norwich lies 19th in the table standings and in fact have yet to win a game this season. So on paper this is one we should wrap up easily but then I doubt that Norwich had as many players away on international duty as we did, if any. So theoretically, they should be a lot fresher than we are.'s scouting report on Norwich gives good insight on what to expect from Norwich.  

A lot of focus will be needed today as the team tunes back mentally from the international objectives of their various clubs to the domestic objectives but it's a challenge this present team has shown so far that they have the ability to ride. I'll call this one 3-0 in our favour.

Will be in touch via Twitter for the duration of the game. Let's go Gooners!

Follow on Twitter @naijaendgooner

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