Arsenal v Norwich City

Talking Heads

Welcome to Talking Heads.

Before and after every first-team fixture, our co-commentator and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.

Arsenal took on Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday and our Talking Heads for this game were studio guest Nigel Winterburn and blogger Arseblog.


Nigel Winterburn Studio guestNIGEL WINTERBURN, STUDIO GUEST
For long periods it was a frustrating afternoon, particularly after Gervinho's miss in the first half. When Norwich scored, Arsenal threw caution to the wind and I think the visitors then sensed there could be a second goal for them. That created a bit more space in midfield. The last 10 minutes were sensational.

Arsene Wenger was always going to bring Jack Wilshere back into the team with Tomas Rosicky injured. What I liked was that the manager was brave enough to bring him off and rotate those players. It gave Arsenal the momentum to drive forward and win the game.

I'm very confident that Arsenal will finish in the top four now. Tuesday night is massive. If Arsenal win that game, the momentum will really be with them and they will be strong favourites to finish in the Champions League places.

I think when you get down to the last few games, the pressure hits any team chasing a Champions League place. Arsenal have got a good run going and they just need to be positive in what will be a very difficult game for them.

I've seen bits of Norwich City this season. In the game at Carrow Road, they defended very well and made it difficult for Arsenal, who couldn't break through their lines. I think we will probably see a similar type of game to that one on Saturday. They will look to play on the counter and defended well and looked very solid the last time the teams met. They have had a strange season because they tend to go on a run where they do well and then follow that up with a run where they struggle to pick up points. They probably believe they need a few more points to ensure safety.


The big thing about form and momentum is that when you go a goal behind, you believe you can come back. When you are in the sort of form where you haven't been winning, you can go behind and not have the same confidence. Arsenal are in form and have to use that to their advantage.

Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott should be back and it's great when you have a fit squad because you have players that can come off the bench and make a difference. Theo and Jack have been very influential this season - they are the game-changers within the squad.

I think Arsenal will win 3-1.


In the end taking the three points is the only thing that matters, even if nerves were a bit shredded. I thought we were unfortunate to go behind; the free kick for the Norwich goal was very generous to say the least, but it did feel like time was running out. Credit has to go the substitutes who all played a part in the comeback, but more than anything we have to admire a team that refused to give up and kept scrapping right until the end.

I was glad to see Lukas Podolski get a goal on his return, I feel the German has a big part to play in the final games of the season and I hope to see more of him between now and the end of the campaign.

It's very encouraging that on a day when our performance wasn't quite as assured as some of our more recent ones, we were still able to win the game. Every point is so important right now, hopefully we can keep the momentum going against Everton.

Having won six of our last seven Premier League games I think we can feel confident going into the Norwich fixture. Although the 1-0 defeat at Carrow Road was one of the big disappointments of the season I feel the team is in better shape now and playing more controlled football. The increased defensive discipline we've shown since the Bayern defeat was obvious against West Brom last weekend, and we were only troubled after the sending off.


We've also been boosted by the fact that squad players like Gervinho and Rosicky have contributed very positively in recent weeks. Although Theo Walcott is fit again I'd stick with the Ivorian from the start tomorrow, his recent performances merit his place in the side, while I'd like to see Lukas Podolski make a comeback now that he's fit again. The German has found himself sidelined through injury and the form of others, and if the manager is reluctant to thrust Jack Wilshere back into action after his break, what a good option Podolski provides.

If we can maintain the focus we've shown in our last few fixtures, I think this is a game from which we can take three points. Then we can start looking ahead to Everton in midweek.


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