Arsenal will look to get their Champions League challenge back on track when they welcome Norwich to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday in the late kick-off.
30 April 2016
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Referee: M. Jones
Assistants: R. West, M. Scholes
Fourth official: K. Friend
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Arsenal 56 26 19 11
Norwich 56 11 19 26
Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal 29/11/2015 (Premier League)
Norwich goalscorer: L. Grabban (43′)
Arsenal goalscorer: M. Ozil (30′)
Players to watch:
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil hold the key to unlocking the Norwich defence for Arsenal. Sanchez is in red-hot form having scored five goals in his last five outings, including a brace in the 2-0 win over West Brom recently.
The Chile international is just four goals shy of equalling his league tally of 16 in his debut season at the Emirates, while Ozil leads the way in the top flight with 18 assists this term.
The German midfielder has also contributed six goals, although he hasn’t scored in three games or provided an assist for seven matches.
The Canaries are the fifth-lowest scorers in the league this season with 35 goals, but they do have players that can cause the opposition problems. Dieumerci Mbokani is the club’s joint-top scorer along with Nathan Redmond, the duo having bagged five goals each.
Winger Redmond also has the pace and guile to trouble defenders and he will be hoping to start this weekend after coming off the bench in the last three games.
Team form and manager quotes:
The Gunners have dropped out of the title race after a poor run of results in 2016, which has seen them pick up just six wins from their 16 league encounters in the new year.
Arsene Wenger’s side are now attempting to ward off the challenge of Manchester United in the hunt for the final Champions League spot, with the north Londoners holding a five-point lead over their closest rivals in the table.
Arsenal fans will be staging a protest at the match to object against the running of the club, but Wenger is calling for togetherness in the final three games of the season.
“It is very frustrating because we were in a position for a long, long time where we could compete for the title,” the Frenchman said in his pre-match press conference.
“In the last three years we have won the FA Cup and the Community Shield [in 2014 and 2015] and finished third in the league. We wanted to go a step higher up and win the league, which was possible. That’s why we are frustrated.
“I can understand the frustration, because nobody is more frustrated than we are. But [we need] to fight no matter what happens, master all kinds of situations and protect and go for what we can achieve.
“We want to add what is needed. But as well this club has special values and one of the values I’ve experienced over the years is to stick together and support the team. There’s no success otherwise.
“I can understand the frustration of our fans but despite that we want to support our team and the best chance you can give to a team is to be behind them.”
Alex Neil’s team have been dragged into a relegation scrap after a woeful first four months in the new year, where they lost 10 of their last 15 matches.
Back-to-back defeats against Crystal Palace and Sunderland have left the Canaries in 18th place, although they are tied on 31 points with the Black Cats just above them.
Neil has urged his players to fight until the very end as they attempt to preserve their top-flight status with four fixtures left to play.
“The bottom line is that we’re in a fight and we need to come out fighting,” he told Norwich City TV.
“There’s been a lot of negativity as you can imagine, obviously with the fact that we were four points clear and now we’re not, but this isn’t the time to give up. It’s the time to roll our sleeves up.
“We’ve been training hard and making sure that we’re ready for the game, we need to make sure we go to Arsenal and give a good performance.”
Wenger, for once, has no injuries to contend with, although three players are unlikely to feature after only just returning to training.
Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky have recovered from Achilles, knee and thigh problems respectively, but the trio are not expected to be risked.
The visitors welcome back skipper Russell Martin, who sat out the 3-0 reverse to Sunderland last time out with a virus.
But Neil continues to be without Timm Klose and Andre Wisdom, the defensive duo sidelined with serious knee injuries.