Arsenal-Norwich City Preview
Arsenal rebounded nicely from last weekend's top-division defeat by earning a much-needed triumph in the Champions League.
Feeling better about themselves following that midweek victory, the Gunners look to get back on track in the Premier League on Sunday against Norwich City at Carrow Road.
In the midst of a 5-1-0 league run, Arsenal (8-2-3) were stunned last Saturday when they lost 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring in the 28th minute, but the Gunners yielded an own goal later in the half and Santi Cazorla slipped as he missed a penalty attempt in the 84th as the Gunners dropped their first Premier League contest since a 2-0 loss at Chelsea on Sept. 19.
The outcome drew some concern from manager Arsene Wenger, but his mood brightened three days later when Arsenal kept their Champions League hopes alive with a 3-0 win over Dynamo Zagreb.
"It was an unlucky day (against West Brom), that can happen in a season but after it is how you respond to that," Wenger told the Gunners' official website, "and we did that well on Tuesday."
While Arsenal have some time until the Dec. 9 Champions League date with Olympiacos, the immediate focus is to regain their positive form in top-flight play. Near the top of the Premier League table, the Gunners have not lost back-to-back such matches since Nov. 9-22 of last year.
Though they hope to be among the top four and in contention for the league title come spring, Wenger's side has no reason to look past this weekend.
"I believe it is a big opportunity for us, but many teams can tell you that," Wenger said. "We are in a position where you want to be after 13 games but there are 25 to go.
"I know people always want to know what will happen in the future but let's take care of the game on Sunday."
Winners of three straight in this series, the Gunners are 7-5-2 against Norwich (3-3-7).
Losers in five of their last six league matches, the Canaries have scored more then two goals twice this season and been held to two total while giving up four in the last four fixtures. They recorded just two shots on goal in last Saturday's 1-0 loss at Chelsea.
"It's a strange one because we've worked so hard, which gives us a sense of pride," Norwich midfielder Gary O'Neil told the club's official website. "Then you reflect on the overall score being 1-0, and we go back with nothing.
"Coming away, doing well, but not leaving with points isn't going to keep us in leagues."
Norwich can take solace knowing they return to Carrow Road, where they most recently won 1-0 over Swansea City on Nov. 7.
"Although we're disappointed, it's important to focus on going again now," O'Neil said. "It's not going to be easy, but the good thing is we're at home. We'll be able to press slightly higher and have slightly more of a go than we have on the road."
Though Arsenal has been beset by a variety of injuries, Giroud has been worthy of carrying the load while scoring in four of the last five Premier League matches. He has one goal and three assists in four career contests against Norwich.