Preview by Numbers: Norwich City v. Arsenal

Carrow Road, Norwich
Sunday, May 11
10:00 a.m. EDT, 15:00 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Lee Mason
    • Assistants: Richard West and Adrian Holmes
    • 4th Official: Anthony D'Urso
  • Reverse Fixture: Arsenal 4 - 1 Norwich
  • This Match, Last Year: Norwich 1 - 0 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 25 Arsenal wins, 11 Norwich wins, 18 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: D-L-W-W-W-W
  • Norwich's League Form: L-L-L-L-L-D
  • Weather: Scattered Light Rain, 13 C / 55 F
Arsenal can still, mathematically, finish in third... they just need a win, a Chelsea loss to Cardiff, and an 18-goal swing in goal difference between themselves and Chelsea. Well, never mind then... And, as for Norwich, they need a win, a West Brom loss to Stoke, and a 17-goal swing in goal difference between themselves and West Brom to survive the drop.

That makes this match as dead as rubber can get. The Gunners will have one eye on next weekend's FA Cup Final for sure, while they realistically cannot improve on their fourth place position in the table. Norwich's odds of survival are... improbable, to say the least.

While it might be dead rubber, Arsenal will not want to go into the Final with a bad taste in their mouths. A solid performance against a team almost certainly to be in next year's Championship is required.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin,) Gnabry (knee,) Walcott (knee,) Ryo (ankle)
Doubts: Wilshere (foot,) Diaby (match fitness)
  • Kieran Gibbs is back in contention, having not played since coming off the bench in the FA Cup Semi-Final with a hamstring injury that I had marked down as "ankle" for the last several weeks.
  • Aaron Ramsey should be available after he was not risked against West Brom last week.
  • Jack Wilshere is back in full training much earlier than expected and could play some part in either of the next two matches.
  • The larger concern is over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, out since April 20 with a groin injury. The Ox played about 20 minutes off the bench against Hull that week.
  • Is Serge Gnabry still hurt? Does anyone know?
  • I don't suspect there are any other changes in the injury list. The only miracle would be an appearance from Abou Diaby off the bench.
  • Anyway, since this match is dead rubber, you can expect some rotation in advance of the FA Cup Final. I won't predict an XI this week for that reason, but here are my thoughts:
    • Wojciech Szczesny will start, looking for one last clean sheet this season, especially with Lukasz Fabianski likely getting the call in next week's final.
    • Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson could be in line for starts along the back line.
    • Aaron Ramsey will be available again; I'd consider giving a rest to Mikel Arteta this week.
    • Midfield? I haven't a clue; Arsenal have a lot of options in there.
    • I'd like to see Yaya Sanogo start this one. I know Sanogo has started pretty much all of the FA Cup ties, but I think Arsenal need to go with Olivier Giroud next week.
Norwich Squad News

Out: Pilkington (hip)
Doubts: Yobo (calf)

  • Very few injury concerns for the Canaries; Anthony Pilkington is out with a hip injury (he has not played since March) and Joseph Yobo could return from a calf injury (though he's only made 10 appearances all year.)
  • There's no reason for Norwich to close up shop; you can bet they'll do everything they can to end the season on a high note. They played a defensive formation at Stamford Bridge last weekend (and it worked,) but they'll be much more attacking on Sunday.
Current Form

  • Arsenal righted the ship just enough to claim the fourth place trophy for another season, winning four league games on the bounce following their 3-0 loss at Goodison Park. They would obviously like to go into Wembley with their winning streak intact, though ultimately, doing so would only provide a psychological advantage.
  • Norwich City have not won since March 22, when they beat Sunderland 2-0. That win helped Norwich climb to 13th place (!) and they were seven points clear of the Black Cats for the final relegation spot (though, Sunderland had an astonishing three games in hand.)
  • Norwich then lost five straight to tumble into relegation; their 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge last week appears to be mere consolation, as an in-form Sunderland side has spared themselves. Only goal difference could save the Canaries now, as they sit three points back of West Bromwich Albion.
Match Facts

  • Arsenal won the reverse fixture 4-1 in October; Jack Wilshere scored a truly marvelous team goal that you'll no doubt recall, while Mesut Ozil scored twice and Aaron Ramsey scored one of his many autumn goals. Jonathan Howson scored for Norwich, which made it 2-1 with 20 minutes to play, before Arsenal closed the match out.
  • Norwich won this match last year, 1-0 thanks to a Grant Holt goal off a Vito Mannone mistake, in October of 2013.
  • Arsenal have not taken all six points from Norwich in either of their previous two seasons in the top flight on this current go-around for the Canaries. Arsenal did take all six points from Norwich when they were last relegated in 2005.
  • Last season, Arsenal took all 18 points available from the three teams who were relegated. This year, they have taken 15 of 15 so far. The last time Arsenal dropped points to a team that ended that season relegated was in 2011/12, when the Gunners drew 1-1 with Wolves at the Emirates. Arsenal have not lost to a side that would go on to be relegated since 2006/07 when they lost to Sheffield United.
The Referee

  • The referee is Lancashire-based Lee Mason.
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 10 with Mason in the middle, dating back to Lukasz Fabianski's antics at Wigan in April of 2010.
  • This year, their results aren't exactly sparkling with Mason as referee: a 1-1 draw at West Brom, a 3-0 win at Cardiff, and a 2-2 draw at Southampton in which Mathieu Flamini was (correctly) sent off.
  • Norwich have seen Mason twice this season and did not score a goal in either match, losing 2-0 to Spurs and 3-0 to Fulham; both matches were in London and the latter was an FA Cup tie.
Around the League

All matches kick-off simultaneously on Sunday.
  • Cardiff City v. Chelsea; Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
  • Fulham v. Crystal Palace; Craven Cottage, London
  • Hull City v. Everton; KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
  • Liverpool v. Newcastle United; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Manchester City v. West Ham United; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Southampton v. Manchester United; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Sunderland v. Swansea City; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Tottenham Hotspur v. Aston Villa; White Hart Lane, London
  • West Bromwich Albion v. Stoke City; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich