How quickly things change in football. Unai Emery’s reign at Arsenal ended abruptly on Friday morning and Freddie Ljungberg is now in control.
Can he engineer a rapid turnaround in fortunes for the Gunners? The ‘new manager bounce’ isn’t yet a mathematical equation but it is footballing lore. Can the Swede benefit?
Daniel Farke saw blue sky burst through his own clouds thanks to Norwich’s well-deserved 2 – 0 win at Everton. Their first away win inched the Canaries closer to safety.
Another three points would be very welcome indeed. Can they revive the spirit of their win over Manchester City this weekend?
The Gunners hierarchy believe Ljungberg can begin the turnaround but like a canal boat on the nearby Broads, turning full circle can take a long time.
The formbook may be right: this has a low-scoring draw written all over it.
Norwich City vs Arsenal Predictions
It’s a different ball game on Sunday following Unai Emery’s dismissal as Arsenal boss. Freddie Ljungberg is the interim head coach but how much magic can he weave in the 48 hours he has to prepare the Gunners for this match.
He has a lot of pieces to pick up. Emery was undone by the draw with Southampton last weekend but the axe didn’t fall until after the dismal 2 – 1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday. It’s not the best preparation for the match and the Gunners hierarchy has questions to answer over their handling of the matter.
Arsenal are without a win in the Premier League in close to two months; five games ago (D3, L2) and in a troubling omen for this weekend, both defeats came away from home.
Away form has been an issue for the Gunners for the last couple of seasons and this year is proving no different. The only win came at Newcastle United on the opening day of the season with five winless since (D2, L3).
Only twice have they held winning positions on their travels this season; at Newcastle and at Watford where a two-goal lead evaporated in a second-half defensive disaster-class. The Gunners were fortunate to leave Vicarage Road with a point as Watford, then as now, the bottom club in the Premier League tore them asunder.
It leaves Ljungberg with a lot of work to do. Arsenal have the joint-worst defensive record in the top ten (with Tottenham!) and could start this game in 10th-place if results go against them. It’s a relatively kind fixture list this weekend for the Swede in that sense.
So too are their opponents. Just two teams have conceded more goals than Norwich City in Premier League home games although only four have taken fewer points away from home than Arsenal.
While the drama unfolds at Arsenal, Daniel Farke has a win to build upon. The performance at Everton showed the potential of this Norwich team in terms of the controlled defensive play and the lightning-quick counter-attacks.
That is something Arsenal have previously been vulnerable to this season, a point not lost on the Canaries head coach. Can he exploit the potential for confusion as Ljungberg tries to eradicate the previous bad habits learned under Unai Emery?
It’s a tall order. Norwich have lost their last three games badly, scoring two goals and conceding ten in the process. Last weekend’s clean sheet rather stands out as a fluke not the norm. They haven’t managed any at home in the league and only two away, the other coming at Bournemouth.
There is little empirical evidence that changing a manager works but football lore says it does. Freddie Ljungberg’s job is to ensure that Arsenal follow the received wisdom.
Carrow Road won’t be a place for the faint-hearted on Sunday. As the nation sits down to the traditional roast, it’s unlikely that either side will be stuffed but we can’t be sure it won’t be a turkey served up.
Norwich City vs Arsenal Head-to-Head
This is the 58th meeting between the two clubs. Arsenal won the first, a 1952 FA Cup tie 5 – 0 at Carrow Road. The Gunners continued that supremacy to currently lead the head-to-head with 29 wins to Norwich’s 11. The remaining 18 matches finished drawn.
Arsenal are unbeaten in the last six (W5, D1) although four of those were home games (W4). At Carrow Road, the Canaries have one win in the last 15 (D8, L6) between the two sides.
The last three meetings in East Anglia saw under 2.5 goals, as have the last four in all competitions.
If Norwich are looking for good omens then they defend an unbeaten home record against Arsenal in December (W1, D3), limiting the visitors to a single goal in those four matches.
Norwich City Team News
Daniel Farke’s injury list lengthened with last weekend’s hero Todd Cantwell suffering a slight knock at Goodison Park. Currently, the youngster is rated 50:50 although he is expected to take his place in Sunday’s starting line-up.
Timm Klose, Josip Drmic and Jamal Lewis are all out for the long-term. Grant Hanley is likely to miss out although there is an outside chance he can make the bench for the visit of Arsenal.
Arsenal Team News
Ljungberg received some good news during his first morning in charge. Rob Holding should be fit for this clash. Even better news came with likely absences of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi.
Both Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin missed the visit of Eintracht Frankfurt with “tight” hamstrings but the Swede will be pushing the Spaniard more to be fit for this trip.
Dani Ceballos remains the only long-term absentee with the Spaniard not expected to return until Christmas.
Norwich City vs Arsenal Recommended Tips
Despite their respective results last weekend, Arsenal are odds-on favourites at 17/20 in Novibet’s matchday odds with Norwich at 63/20 with the draw 17/5.
Both sides are woefully out of form with goals hard to come by. Norwich have just four in the last six with Arsenal managing six in the same timescale. It makes the Over/Under 2.5 goals offer of 33/20 for Under 2.5 goals very attractive.
However, some of the biggest reputations in the English game are on show with the Anytime Goalscorers market offering some rich pickings. Teemu Pukki’s offering of 5/4 sits well compared to
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is 13/20. The Gabon international has four of the Gunners five away league goals this season.
Others who might travel well are Alexandre Lacazette at Evens (1/1) and despite a rough start to his Arsenal career, Nicholas Pepe is 6/5.