Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Norwich City / Arsenal v. Everton

Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday, April 13
10:00 a.m. EDT, 15:00 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Mike Jones
    • Assistants: Peter Kirkup and Richard West
    • 4th Official: Fred Graham
  • Reverse Fixture: Norwich 1 - 0 Arsenal
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 3 - 3 Norwich
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 23 Arsenal wins, 11 Norwich wins, 18 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-L-W-W-W
  • Norwich's League Form: W-L-D-D-L-D
  • Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 13 C / 56 F

Emirates Stadium, London
Tuesday, April 16
2:45 p.m. EDT, 19:45 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Neil Swarbrick
    • Assistants: Gary Beswick and Lee Betts
    • 4th Official: Kevin Friend
  • Reverse Fixture: Everton 1 - 1 Arsenal
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 1 - 0 Everton
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 98 Arsenal wins, 58 Everton wins, 42 draws
  • Everton's League Form: L-L-W-W-W-D
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, Low of 6 C / 43 F
Two previews in one this week, because I'll be on vacation in Montreal from this morning through Wednesday and Arsenal will play twice while I'm there.

As for matters on the pitch, Arsenal have seven games remaining, and they'll play two of them in a span of four days. The good news is, both are at the Emirates. There's not much else to say that hasn't been said already; Arsenal have to keep the good form going as they challenge for a spot in the top four. There's plenty of time to make a move, but there's also plenty of time to slip up. Two wins in these two matches would be huge to kick off the final five game push.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Diaby (knee)
Doubts: Rosicky (hamstring), Walcott (pelvis), Wilshere (ankle)
Suspended: Mertesacker (one match)

Theo Walcott has declared himself fit and ready for selection, which begs the question: does he return to the starting XI straight away? I feel like the prevailing answer among the fan base right now is no. You will recall that Walcott was out-of-form before his injury and has not scored a goal since the end of January. With Gervinho finding the slightest bit of form, I think it makes the most sense for Theo to return from the bench.

Tomas Rosicky, man of the match against West Brom, is a huge doubt with a hamstring problem, so Jack Wilshere (who is now back in training) could return to the XI. Meanwhile, Per Mertesacker serves a one match ban for his professional foul red card, meaning Thomas Vermaelen must return to the side.

Predicted XI v. Norwich: Fabianski, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Gervinho, Giroud.

Norwich Squad News

Out: Bunn (groin), Surman (knee)
Doubts: Ruddy (thigh), Pilkington (hamstring)

Norwich have had issues with their goalkeepers as of late. John Ruddy has not played since November with a thigh injury, in which the muscle was ripped from the bone. He is back in training (and played for the reserves on Monday) and his back-up, Mark Bunn, left last week's match against Swansea with a groin injury. It sounds like this would be too quick for a return for Ruddy, so if Bunn is unavailable, Lee Camp will have to start.

Andrew Surman has missed most of the season with a knee injury he suffered in training; he returned for Norwich's FA Cup loss to Luton Town, but was subbed off after 72 minutes and has not featured since.

Anthony Pilkington is a doubt; he has not played due to a hamstring injury since March 9.

Everton Squad News

Out: Hibbert (calf)

Everton, at least at the moment leading into their weekend match with QPR, have only one injury: club legend Tony Hibbert has been out since December with a calf injury.

That's it. I have nothing else to say about Everton right now.

Current Form

Arsenal's win over West Brom marked their fourth straight victory across all competitions. It might come as a bit of a surprise, but this is the first time all season Arsenal have done that. In addition, the loss to Tottenham is the only blemish on Arsenal's league record since their draw with Liverpool in late January. 15 points from their last six games means they are the joint-top in form side in the league, thanks to United's loss to City on Monday.

As for Norwich, well, they have one win from their last 15 in the league. Then again, Arsenal gave them their first win of the season in October. That kicked off a run where the Canaries were unbeaten in 10, which included a 1-0 win over Manchester United. Since then, one win from 15. Norwich went from 19th to 7th, then back as low as 14th, and now sit in 13th, just four points above the relegation line.

Everton are coming on strong and are unbeaten in four (incidentally, their last loss was Norwich.) They have beaten Reading, City (while on ten men,) and Stoke, then blew a lead late to draw Tottenham. The Toffees sit four points back of fifth place Arsenal. Everton's 13 draws on the season is the most among teams in the top half of the table.

Match Facts

Arsenal have struggled with the Canaries since their promotion to the top flight, winning once, losing once, and drawing once. The loss came earlier this year in the reverse fixture, as Vito Mannone parried a shot weakly into the path of Grant Holt, who buried the rebound into the net in the 19th minute. Arsenal had 62% of the possession, but could not find the net.

This match last year all but killed Arsenal's hopes for third place (until Tottenham dropped points themselves the next day.) Arsenal led early thanks to a Yossi Benayoun goal, but Wes Hoolahan equalized ten minutes later and Grant Holt put the Canaries ahead in the 27th. A certain former captain scored twice for Arsenal in the 72nd and 80th minutes to regain the lead, but Norwich were level again five minutes later through Steve Morison. Anthony Taylor failed to give Arsenal a penalty in added time when that same former captain was shoved in the box by Kyle Naughton.

As for Arsenal and Everton, the sides played a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park in late November: Theo Walcott scored 51 seconds into the match, but Marouane Fellaini drew the Toffees level on 28 minutes. Everton had the slight advantage over much of the proceedings, to the tune of 53% possession, but the Gunners escaped Liverpool with a point. Arsenal won this fixture last year 1-0, thanks to a superb volley from aforementioned former captain. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 11 against Everton, whose last win over the Gunners was on March 18, 2007 by a 1-0 scoreline.

The Referees

The referee for the Norwich match on Saturday is Chester-based Mike Jones. Arsenal have seen Jones twice this season; both matches were at the Emirates and both were Arsenal wins. They include the 6-1 win over Coventry City in the League Cup and the 2-0 win over West Brom which included two penalties, including the first from a controversial Santi Cazorla tumble. Norwich have seen Jones three times and have not won. They lost 5-2 to Liverpool at Carrow Road, drew 1-1 against Everton at Goodison Park, and lost 4-3 to ten man Manchester City (after Samir Nasri was sent off.)

The referee for the Everton match on Tuesday is Lancashire-based Neil Swarbrick. Arsenal have not seen Swarbrick this year; Everton have seen him twice and drawn both (2-2 at Fulham and 0-0 at Southampton.) Arsenal had Swarbrick twice last year and won both (2-1 at Sunderland (thank you, Thierry Henry) and 3-0 at Wolves.)

Around the League
  • Saturday: Aston Villa v. Fulham; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Everton v. Queens Park Rangers; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Saturday: Reading v. Liverpool; Madejski Stadium, Reading
  • Saturday: Southampton v. West Ham United; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Saturday (FA Cup): Millwall v. Wigan Athletic; Wembley Stadium, London
  • Sunday: Newcastle United v. Sunderland; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Sunday: Stoke City v. Manchester United; Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sunday (FA Cup): Chelsea v. Manchester City; Wembley Stadium, London
  • Wednesday: Manchester City v. Wigan Athletic; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Wednesday: West Ham United v. Manchester United; Boleyn Ground, London
  • Wednesday: Fulham v. Chelsea; Craven Cottage, London