No rush this time
It makes a change to be going in to a game and thinking that we actually have plenty of players to choose from. It's been another long and boring week with no midweek football, a symptom of another poor season, but it means we host Norwich tomorrow with a set of fresh players. At this stage of the season I'd rather we were playing twice every week as it would mean we're close to being successful but at least there can be few complaints about fatigue.
The team news ahead of the visit of the struggling Canaries is positive. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are both in contention after apparently recovering from their recent problems. Personally I see no need to rush either of them back in to the starting line-up. Bizarrely we have done very well without them. The midfield has responded strongly to Jack's absence and that has been a very pleasant turn of events. Meanwhile Gervinho has managed to contribute to the cause in the absence of Theo Walcott. Personally I'd have Walcott, Podolski and Chamberlain all ahead of the Ivorian, but you can't argue with his goals and assists in the last few games. The fact is that we've had three good victories of late and Gervinho has been heavily involved in all of them. Credit where it is due. I suppose the most praise you can heap on the team as a whole is that they haven't missed Wilshere or Walcott in the slightest.
With three games to play in the next eight days Arsene Wenger will probably look at swapping one or two players about at some point. I don't really see the necessity of that as long as we're winning. I remember us beating Chelsea at Christmas a few years back only to go to Wigan three days later with a changed team and fail to get the expected result. Winning players don't get tired unless the Manager tells them they're feeling it. At the moment we have a winning team, so why change things?
Obviously there will be one enforced change from last week with Thomas Vermaelen coming in for the banned Per Mertesacker. I get jittery when Vermaelen and Koscielny are paired with one another. It failed all last season as a partnership and has been poor on the occasions we've seen it this term. You would think it shouldn't be too much of a problem against this Norwich team, but this is Arsenal 2013 we're talking about. I also don't like the fact that Grant Holt is available after the referee failed to punish a certain red card tackle by him last week (he didn't even get booked despite a free-kick being given). Things like that often haunt Arsenal and the two centre-backs have to find a way of playing together to combat the likes of Holt. Vermaelen should certainly be hungry following his omission in recent weeks - he is due a vintage performance and maybe even a trademark Verminator goal. He will certainly have to perform well if he is to keep the BFG out of the side when Everton visit on Tuesday.
We're entering our most crucial week of the season in terms of finishing in those Champions League places. Manchester City's win on Monday night probably puts second place just out of reach, but winning our next three games would see us go seven points clear of Spurs, and further in front of Chelsea, before they next play in the Premier League. It would apply huge pressure to both teams. Arsenal are capable of making it happen provided the right attitude is displayed. It must start tomorrow with a win against Norwich.