The Gunners have won their last three games to pull within two points of Tottenham Hotspur in the race for a top-four finish. Now, with a game in hand, they can move into fourth spot and the Champions League qualification zone for next season with a win against the Canaries.
Norwich have been very strong at home this season but have struggled to show that form on the road this year, and will be hard pressed to win this one.
They haven't won in their last five league matches and have slipped down to just four points above the relegation zone, which will no doubt have crossed their minds.
Can they use that fear of the drop zone to turn in an inspired performance this week against the Gunners, or will the home side be too strong at the Emirates this week?
Read on for a full preview of this match including all the need-to-know details, live viewing information, analysis and last-mintue predictions.
Date: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Start time: 10:00 a.m. ET (3:00 p.m. British time)
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London, England
Live Stream and TV Information
Fox Soccer Channel, FOX Deportes, SiriusXM FC and TalkSport Radio will all provide live coverage of the match throughout the United States.
As mentioned, Arsenal come into this one on the back of three straight wins, and seven wins from their past nine matches. They lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur four weeks ago and drew with Liverpool back in January, but other than that, the London club have been playing very well.
The Gunners have scored in every game since Christmas except for one (against Manchester City) and will be looking for another big performance here.
They've averaged 2.6 goals per game at home this season and have kept clean sheets in nearly a third of their games as well—making for a very tough side to break down at home for Norwich, who have won just once since Christmas.
Other than a 2-1 win over Everton at home, the Canaries have struggled a great deal of late and appear likely to do the same in this one.
They've only scored 12 away goals all season in 16 games and have managed just one win on the road this year. In 2013, they've had four losses and draws on the road this year, and have scored just one goal in that time also—making it very unlikely that they'll find the net in this one.
Key Player to Watch: Mikel Arteta, Arsenal
With Arsenal seemingly likely to dominate possession and the attacking chances, look for Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta to come to the fore in this one.
Arteta has again been sublime for the Gunners this year, with his passing skills making him one of the strongest midfielders in the league. And against a weak midfield that is likely to be overrun somewhat by that of the Londoners, he'll most certainly shine throughout this one.
Arteta has averaged 2.7 interceptions and 3.2 tackles in defense this year, and has also chimed in with five goals and five assists for the season.
His average of 84.2 passes per game at a 92.3 percent completion rate remains one of the best in world football (let alone the Premier League), and with England international Jack Wilshere likely to return alongside him in this one, expect a very dominant showing from Arteta.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: How Will Arsenal Play with Everton Ahead?
As mentioned, the return of Wilshere in this one will likely come as a huge boost for Arsenal, who should also see Theo Walcott returning this week.
The pair have been two of the Gunners' best this season, and whilst Arsenal have survived fine without them and probably don't need them to beat the Canaries here, Arsene Wenger may well want to give his two stars some minutes on the pitch before they play Everton on April 16.
That will have a profound impact on the top four race this year, and whilst Arsenal may be tempted to slacken off here and focus on that one, they simply cannot afford to do so. For if they drop points here, they'll just find themselves under further pressure next week.
The Gunners must approach this one trying to chalk up a big win, especially given how close the top four race is this year. If they have a big lead, then they may look to pull players off, but Wenger and Arsenal cannot get caught slacking off in this one too much.
Norwich have already shown once this year they are capable of stunning the Gunners, and if they lose focus in this one, they may well do so again.
Three Stats to Consider
10. Arsenal have scored in 10 straight English Premier League games.
9. Nine of Olivier Giroud's 10 goals in the league this season have come at home.
7. Norwich have not won in their past seven away matches.
Statistics provided via Soccer Stats
It would be a major shock to see anything other than a Gunners victory here, and despite the upset we saw earlier in the year, there won't be one this time around.
Arsenal are fixated on a top-four finish and know that they could make the jump into the European spots this weekend at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur.
That will surely drive them here, and with an early goal or two they will be able to control the tempo and possession of the match throughout. Norwich do have skill on the counterattack, but at the Emirates—with the Gunners dominating—they'll be hard pressed to succeed here.
Look for Arsenal to post a comfortable victory and a clean sheet en route to victory, as they stare down their all-important match with Everton next week.
Prediction: Arsenal 3, Norwich City 0
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