Preview by Numbers: Norwich City v. Arsenal

Carrow Road, Norwich
Sunday, November 29
11:15 a.m. EST, 16:15 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Jonathan Moss
    • Assistants: Stuart Burt and Gary Beswick
    • 4th Official: Robert Madley
  • This Match, Last Time: Norwich 0 - 2 Arsenal (May 11, 2014)
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 26 Arsenal wins, 11 Norwich wins, 18 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-W-W-D-L
  • Norwich's League Form: L-L-L-L-W-L
Mesut Ozil scores a diving header, LOL what?
Arsenal got the result in Europe they so desperately needed on Tuesday; their 3-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb coupled with Olympiacos's loss in Germany means Arsenal can still qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League with a big enough win over Olympiacos on matchday six. But, we'll cross that bridge in December.

The Gunners slipped from second to fourth place in the league after last weekend's 2-1 loss at the Hawthorns. Liverpool's win over Manchester City eases the pain a little, as does the fact that it's Leicester City that currently sits at the summit.

Arsenal's next three league games are against 16th place Norwich City, 18th place Sunderland, and 20th place Aston Villa. To be quite honest, Arsenal needs to win all three. Those are all in advance of a meeting with Manchester City at the Emirates on December 21.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Coquelin (knee,) Arteta (calf,) Walcott (calf,) Welbeck (knee,) Wilshere (ankle,) Rosicky (knee)
Doubts: Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could make the bench Sunday.
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal will have everyone who was involved against Zagreb on Tuesday available for Sunday, which includes Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman came off the bench on 67 minutes. The biggest question will be regarding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's hamstring. Wenger said yesterday that the Ox "should be back in the squad."

There's good news on Francis Coquelin's knee, insomuch as he does not require surgery. He's still expected to miss three months, however. The end of February is when we should be looking at him back in training; he'll likely be out longer than the current list of "long-term injuries": Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky, and Jack Wilshere could all make returns by or during January. Mikel Arteta's calf problem has been called "short-term," even though it's starting to feel to me that a more applicable term would be "chronic."

Theo Walcott started running this week, but he is not back in full training. He's likely the next one back after the Ox.

Predicted XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Cazorla, Alexis, Ramsey, Ozil, Giroud.

Norwich Squad News

Out: Jarvis (knee,) Tettey (thigh)

Alex Tettey (left) was injured as Norway lost their Euro
playoff to Hungary.
Midfielder Alex Tettey picked up a thigh injury on international duty with Norway two weeks ago and has been ruled out of this weekend's fixture. His injury is not expected to keep him out in the long term. Meanwhile, Matthew Jarvis is still a few weeks away from a return from a knee injury.

Elsewhere, Kyle Lafferty is fit and available after being removed as a precaution with a groin problem from a midweek Under-21 match, while captain Russell Martin will return to the side after missing's last week's trip to Chelsea for personal reasons. Martin has not played since October 31, when he was sent off against Manchester City for the handball that led to City's winning penalty.

Norwich use a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Congolese striker Dieumerci Mbokani likely starting up top with Nathan Redmond behind him, Jonathan Howson and Robbie Brady playing on the wings, and Youssouf Mulumbu and Gary O'Neil playing centrally.

Predicted XI: Ruddy, Wisdom, Martin, Bassong, Bennett, O'Neil, Howson, Brady, Mulumbu, Redmond, Mbokani.

Current Form

With Coquelin and Cazorla out, some more teams are going
to need to get Flammened.
Arsenal will hope that their midweek win, 3-0 over Dinamo Zagreb, will have righted the ship again. Across all competitions, Arsenal have lost one-third of their matches overall this season (seven losses in 21 matches,) which has led to a fourth place standing in the league, a precarious position in Europe, and elimination from the League Cup by a lower league side. Last week's 2-1 loss at West Bromwich Albion felt like yet another low point, but with upcoming matches against Norwich and Sunderland before their European Judgment Day, there's time to get things going positively again.

As for Norwich, the Canaries have just one win in their last eight matches across all competitions. They crashed out of the League Cup on penalties to Everton while they have won just three league matches all season. Their 1-0 win over Swansea on November 7 snapped a four-match losing streak in league play, but they fell to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend. Norwich are three points clear of relegation at the moment, sitting in 16th place.

Match Facts

Carl Jenkinson loses his mind after scoring his first career
goal in Arsenal's last match at Carrow Road.
Arsenal took all six possible points from Norwich City back in 2013/14, when the Canaries were relegated to the Championship. Norwich then yo-yo'ed back to the Premier League, finishing third in the Championship last year before winning the play-off final.

But, back to those matches two years ago: Arsenal won 4-1 at the Emirates in October, a match which included Jack Wilshere's endlessly viewed tappy-tappy-tap-tap goal. Mesut Ozil scored twice and Aaron Ramsey added the fourth. Norwich had, briefly, made it 2-1 during the course of the second half through Jonathan Howson with 20 minutes to play before Arsenal put it away.

When the clubs met at Carrow Road, it was the final match of the season, with Norwich all-but-mathematically relegated (they needed a 17-goal swing to survive.) They didn't get it, as Arsenal won 2-0, through Aaron Ramsey and the first career goal from Carl Jenkinson.

Arsenal failed to take all six points from Norwich in each of the previous two seasons, including a 1-0 loss at Carrow Road in October of 2012. Grant Holt had the goal from a Vito Mannone mistake. Remember Grant Holt? While researching this, I had somehow tricked myself into thinking he got an England cap, which was close, but did not actually happen. He's at Wolves, on loan from Wigan, by the way, which seems weird; it's not often a League One team loans a player to the Championship, right? He's not starting for Wolves, mind you, he's actually coming off the bench for Benik Afobe...

I've completely digressed here...

The Referee

Jose Mourinho loses his mind yelling at Moss.
The referee is West Yorkshire-based Jonathan Moss. Moss has already worked one Arsenal match this season, the 2-0 win over Stoke City on September 12. That means Arsenal now have 11 wins in 11 total competitive matches with Moss as the referee; that includes last year's FA Cup Final win over Aston Villa.

Norwich City have seen Moss once so far this season, for a 3-0 loss at Southampton in August, in which defender Steven Whittaker picked up two yellow cards in just 31 minutes. In a funny twist, Moss accidentally did not pull out his red card after the second yellow and showed Whittaker his notebook instead.

Moss, of course, was most recently in the news when Jose Mourinho rampaged at him after Nemanja Matic's first half red card in Chelsea's 2-1 loss at West Ham. He also took charge of last weekend's big match between Manchester City and Liverpool.

Around the League
  • Saturday: Aston Villa v. Watford; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Bournemouth v. Everton; Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
  • Saturday: Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United; Selhurst Park, London
  • Saturday: Manchester City v. Southampton; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Saturday: Sunderland v. Stoke City; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Saturday (late): Leicester City v. Manchester United; King Power Stadium, Leicester
  • Sunday (very early): Tottenham Hotspur v. Chelsea; White Hart Lane, London
  • Sunday (regular early): West Ham United v. West Bromwich Albion; Boleyn Ground, London
  • Sunday (late): Liverpool v. Swansea City; Anfield, Liverpool
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and a major Micronesian holiday. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat to celebrate.

Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Dinamo Zagreb, Champions League Group Matchday 5

Emirates Stadium, London
Tuesday, November 24
2:45 p.m. EST, 19:45 BST
  • Match Officials from Hungary
    • Referee: Viktor Kassai
    • Assistants: Gyorgy Ring and Vencel Toth
    • 4th Official: Peter Berettyan
    • Additional Assistants: Tamas Bognar and Adam Farkas
  • Reverse Fixture: Dinamo Zagreb 2 - 1 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 2 Arsenal wins, 1 Dinamo Zagreb win
  • Arsenal's European Form: L-W // L-L-W-L
  • Dinamo Zagreb's European Form: W-W-W-L-L-L
Still the most useful graphic I've ever made.
If Arsenal are to reach the knockout phase for the 16th consecutive season, they're going to need a bit of help. They have to win tonight, first and foremost. In addition to that, they'll need Bayern Munich to defeat Olympiacos. Technically, those two sides would both be through with a draw, but I don't really think of Bayern as the kind of team that plays for just a point, especially in Munich. If those two results happen, then Arsenal can finish second in the group if they win in Greece on matchday six by a better scoreline than Olympiacos's win at the Emirates had been (3-2, if you forgot.)

But, we'll cross that bridge if we're lucky enough to come to it. Arsenal limp into this fixture having lost at the Hawthorns for the first time since 2005. Since winning four in a row at the end of October, the Gunners have now won once in their last five across all competitions. They're out of the League Cup, they've tumbled back to fourth in the Premier League table, and they are fighting for the lives in the Champions League. And their injury problems aren't getting any better.

The Gunners are staring down the barrel of... well, a cannon, I suppose. But it only takes one win to start a winning streak.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Coquelin (knee,) Arteta (calf,) Walcott (calf,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring,) Welbeck (knee,) Wilshere (ankle,) Rosicky (knee)
Doubts: Ramsey (hamstring)

Aaron Ramsey, in training yesterday preparing to be out
injured again real soon.
With the word that Francis Coquelin will be out at least nine years... I mean, two months, with a knee injury, the Arsenal Internet-o-sphere went from its usual level of generic panic to full on lunacy mode yesterday, so I largely avoided reading anything that wasn't explicitly news. This is exacerbated by the fact that Coquelin's replacement on Saturday, Mikel Arteta, is also out in the "short-term" with a calf injury. Considering Arteta continually gets hurt when he gets a run out, the use of the phrase "short-term" feels merely nominal. It would appear that Mathieu Flamini will deputize in the position for the time being, while Calum Chambers will provide cover.

On the plus side, Aaron Ramsey is available again; he has not played since picking up a hamstring injury in the win over Bayern Munich. I've listed him as a "doubt" above as he is on his way back from injury. It looks like he'll have to start, though, since Arsenal currently lack available players in numerous critical midfield positions. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be available this weekend against Norwich, while Theo Walcott will be the next player back after that.

All that said, those are the only two changes I could see being made to the XI: Flamini coming in for the injured Coquelin/Arteta and Aaron Ramsey returning to the wings, which would mean Kieran Gibbs drops back to the bench.

Predicted XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Cazorla, Alexis, Ramsey, Ozil, Giroud.

Dinamo Zagreb Squad News

Out: None
Suspended: Pivaric (one match, red card) Ademi (four years, failed drug test)

Look, you can even see the drugs in his... oh, that's
Arteta's hair.
The Croatian side have no injured players in their ranks (maybe we can share some of ours?) but the biggest news lies elsewhere within the squad. Holding midfielder Arijan Ademi has been handed a four-year ban for failing a drug test following Zagreb's matchday one victory over Arsenal; Ademi played 90 minutes in the match and later played on matchday two before being suspended by UEFA. Incidentally, if a second player had tested positive, UEFA would have grounds for disqualification (which would seriously alter Arsenal's knockout qualification outlook...)

Elsewhere in the side, defender Josip Pivaric will serve a ban after being sent off from Zagreb's matchday four loss to Olympiacos.

The Ademi suspension has brought about a tactical change in Dinamo Zagreb's Champions League formations; after playing a 4-3-3 against Arsenal and Bayern Munich, they trotted out a 4-2-3-1 formation in both matches against Olympiacos. It's hard to tell whether the formation change came from Ademi's lack of availability or from the differing opposition.

Predicted XI: Eduardo, Matel, Taravel, Sigali, Musa, Antolic, Rog, Pjaca, Machado, Fernandes, Hodzic.

Current Form

Don't touch him!
Arsenal's form has tanked since their 2-1 win over Everton had extended a winning streak to four matches back on October 24. After that, Arsenal went up to Sheffield for a fourth round League Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday, lost two right wingers to injury, and lost the match 3-0. Blip on the radar, perhaps? After a sluggish first half, Arsenal ran riot over Swansea in the second half the following weekend and all seemed right with the world again.

Then, the trip to Munich and a 5-1 loss in Europe led into a North London derby in which the Gunners were lucky to steal a point at home. Arsenal had certainly stumbled over some tough hurdles, but they had not fallen. But now, after a 2-1 loss at West Bromwich Albion claimed two more injured players, it's hard not to be concerned about Arsenal's overall form. It would be frightening, indeed, if Arsenal had these results with a fully fit squad; since their squad has been held together with duct tape over the last three weeks, its hard to objectively judge this form at all.

As for Dinamo Zagreb, their win over Arsenal on matchday one was number 42 in an unbeaten streak that would reach 45 across all competitions. Of course, then they had to play at Bayern Munich, where they lost 5-0. In Europe, they have also now lost both fixtures to Olympiacos. Oddly enough, they've started dropping results domestically in the games that have followed the broken unbeaten run. In six league games since their loss at Bayern, Dinamo Zagreb have won three, lost two, and drawn one. That leaves them now in second place in Croatia, two points behind Rijeka.

Match Facts

Okay, Olivier, we're gonna need you to stay on the pitch
this time. Thanks in advance.
Going back to my preview for the reverse fixture, I wrote, "It's a game Arsenal should win, but we all know how those turn out sometimes..."

I hate it when I'm right like that. Arsenal were shocked by a 2-1 defeat in Croatia on matchday one; the tide of the match turned on an unfortunate bounce and an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain own goal on 24 minutes. Just before halftime, Olivier Giroud was sent off for a second bookable offense, forcing Arsenal to search for their equalizer using only ten men. Junior Fernandes doubled the hosts' lead just before the hour mark, making Arsenal's comeback next to impossible. Theo Walcott pulled a goal back 11 minutes from time, but the Gunners could not find an equalizer, setting off this disastrous-to-date Champions League campaign off on the wrong foot.

The only previous meetings between the clubs came in the final qualifying round before the 2006 group stage; Arsenal won that tie 5-1 on aggregate, winning both matches.

The Referee

Soccer Touchdown!
The match officials are from Hungary; the referee is Viktor Kassai. By and large, Arsenal have a poor record with Kassai, losing three and winning one, but the one win was their most recent match involving the Hungarian official. That was last year's group matchday five win over Borussia Dortmund, 2-0.

As for the terrible rest of that list of matches with Kassai, Arsenal lost 2-0 at Braga on matchday five in 2010, then 4-0 at AC Milan in the round of 16 in 2012, then 2-0 at Napoli on matchday six in 2013. Most of those matches included terrible calls going against the Gunners, including Mikel Arteta's controversial sending off from the match in Naples.

This will be Kassai's first match for Dinamo Zagreb. The only other Champions League match Kassai has worked involving a Croatian side was a second qualifying round match in 2004, where Hajduk Split beat Irish side Shelbourne, 3-2.

Around Europe

  • Tuesday: BATE Borisov v. Bayer Leverkusen; Borisov Arena, Barysaw
  • Tuesday: Barcelona v. Roma; Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • Tuesday: Bayern Munich v. Olympiacos; Allianz Arena, Munich
  • Tuesday: Porto v. Dynamo Kiev; Estadio do Dragao, Porto
  • Tuesday: Maccabi Tel Aviv v. Chelsea; Sammy Ofer Stadium, Haifa
  • Tuesday: Zenit St. Petersburg v. Valencia; Petrovsky Stadium, St. Petersburg
  • Tuesday: Lyon v. Gent; Stade de Gerland, Lyon
  • Wednesday: Malmo v. Paris St. Germain; Swedbank Stadion, Malmo
  • Wednesday: Shakhtar Donetsk v. Real Madrid; Arena Lviv, Lviv
  • Wednesday: CSKA Moscow v. Wolfsburg; Arena Khimki, Khimki
  • Wednesday: Manchester United v. PSV Eindhoven; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Wednesday: Astana v. Benfica; Astana Arena, Astana
  • Wednesday: Atletico Madrid v. Galatasaray; Vicente Calderon Stadium, Madrid
  • Wednesday: Juvenus v. Manchester City; Juvenus Stadium, Turin
  • Wednesday: Borussia Monchengladbach v. Sevilla; Stadion im Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and sans-serif typeface. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat to voice your demand for more serifs.