Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Norwich City visit Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Michael Bailey.
MICHAEL COXNorwich City are in the relegation zone, but the Canaries have caused Arsenal significant problems in recent years.
It's true that the Norfolk side have only won one of their meetings against Arsenal since their promotion in 2011, but they have been ahead at one stage in all four fixtures.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton stuck to a system featuring two banks of four last season, with his team concentrating on attacking down the flanks.
"At the back, Norwich are well-organised and rarely get dragged out of position"
This year, however, he’s varied his approach. In the 1-0 win at Stoke, and the slightly unfortunate 3-1 defeat at home to Chelsea, he used a 4-1-4-1 system, using Ghanaian-born Norwegian international Alexander Tettey in a deep, solid holding role, protecting the defence.
The central midfield zone is arguably Norwich’s strongest area. Summer signing Leroy Fer is another physical, combative player while the underrated Jonny Howson is a good all-round footballer, and sensible with his distribution.
Whereas Norwich’s central midfielders generally stood off the opposition last season, the presence of Tettey in a defensive role means Fer and Howson have a little more freedom to close down higher up the pitch.
Those three midfielders offer relatively little attacking threat, however, which means there’s a big emphasis upon the wide players to get forward. Hughton is likely to use Robert Snodgrass on the right flank and Nathan Redmond on the left - both players are fielded on the ‘wrong’ flank, and therefore are always tempted to cut inside before shooting.
At the back, Norwich are well-organised and rarely get dragged out of position. In last season’s 1-0 win over Arsenal at Carrow Road, they played a surprisingly high defensive line to push Olivier Giroud away from goal, and should Hughton ask his players to replicate that tactic, Arsenal must get midfield runners breaking in behind.
Norwich’s real weakness is up front. Club record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel started his Norwich career with a fine headed goal on his debut against Everton, but in his six subsequent starts, the Dutchman has managed just one shot on target. He’s also committed more fouls than any other Premier League player this season.MICHAEL BAILEY It's been an up-and-down start to the season for Norwich City. I think with the number of players they brought in over the summer, the expectations were always going to be high, but practically there was always going to be a bit of time to get everything working properly.
Norwich's position in the league doesn't look good at the moment but in the last two games they genuinely look like they are getting it together. Three or four weeks ago the mood was a bit low but they were extremely unlucky against Chelsea. Saturday's game is about as tough as it gets at the moment but I think it's all heading in the right direction now.
"I think if Arsenal aren't careful then Norwich have got the the ability to be awkward and stubborn opponents on Saturday"
Norwich's performance against Chelsea stemmed from their comeback against Watford in the Capital One Cup. Chris Hughton seems to have found a midfield that works, Alex Tettey and Leroy Fer have impressed with their positional play and that allows Jonny Howson space to roam forward, which has been really key.
Fer looks like a really good signing for the Canaries. He played for Holland in midweek and impressed. He's a big unit, he's good on the ball and has got a great eye for a pass. He's a physical player and is capable of influencing games at the right moments. Martin Olsson is settling in well at left back.
The big summer signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel isn't quite getting the service he needs but there are high hopes for him. It feels like there will be a game where it all clicks and he will then go on long goalscoring run.
I can't see Hughton changing his formation too much from the last two games. So there will obviously be a back four with Tettey protecting them, and then another midfield four with Van Wolfswinkel up front on his own. The two wingers will be important when Norwich do attack to give support to the Dutch striker.
There is talk that Anthony Pilkington will be out which will be a blow for Hughton. You would expect Nathan Redmond to come in but he is a very forward-thinking player which may leave the full backs exposed.
I think if Arsenal aren't careful then Norwich have got the the ability to be awkward and stubborn opponents on Saturday. So there's no reason to think the visitors can't take anything from the game. The last two games at Emirates Stadium have been tight affairs and Norwich came close to taking all three points both times.
Norwich have the potential to cause an upset and they have a good framework built up from their last few games but if Arsenal fire then I think it could be a long afternoon for Hughton's side.
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