How Arsenal Will Line Up Against Norwich City

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 04:  Olivier Giroud (C) of Arsenal celebrates with team mates after scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium on May 4, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Charlie MelmanCorrespondent IIMay 9, 2014

For once, Arsenal will not have to perform under pressure on the final day of the season in order to secure fourth place.

The Gunners were assured of Champions League qualification even before they played their last match because Everton continued their slip and handed over a place at the big boys' table without Arsenal even having to play for it.

But Norwich have everything to play for at their home stadium. It's just them and West Bromwich Albion competing for Premier League safety, and Norwich must win to have any chance of remaining in the top flight for another season.

The Canaries are three points behind the Baggies, who are playing Stoke. It will be interesting to see how Arsenal, who not only have nothing to play for but have an incentive to conserve energy ahead of the FA Cup final, approach a team that will be leaving every last ounce of energy it has on the pitch.

It will also be intriguing to see what lineup Arsene Wenger decides to field in a game from which his team stands to gain absolutely nothing. He might give younger players a chance or throw on some scarcely seen veterans for the hell of it.

Here's how the starting XI might look.


Now, I'll admit, Emiliano Viviano is included just because I want to see him play once before his loan spell is up. And why not give the poor chap a run-out; he's been forced to do absolutely nothing for an entire season but his rustiness won't matter one bit.

It'll also be interesting to see if and how having a pitch under him accentuates any of his features.

Some players will probably start so they can keep their edge before the final. Thus, it would not be so unreasonable for Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs to round out the defense, despite the fact that the former and the latter have ready-made replacements.

Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen might get the nod in favor of Laurent Koscielny if Arsene Wenger wants to rest him. It would more than likely be the Belgian's final game with Arsenal, as he will not start in the FA Cup final and he is almost certainly off in the summer.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 04:  Olivier Giroud of Arsenal after scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium on May 4, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger loves playing Mikel Arteta so much that he will probably not rest his Spanish stalwart. But he should switch up the rest of the midfield, using Mathieu Flamini to create a conservative formation, and the fit-again Aaron Ramsey getting back into the swing of things following a brief absence.

However, Mesut Ozil and (especially) Santi Cazorla both merit a rest.

Each is so crucial to the Gunners' attack through their mutual creativity that giving them a cameo off the bench is probably preferable to making them work for most of the match against a very aggressive Norwich side.

Since the midfield has already been rearranged, only Tomas Rosicky will be needed to fill the void, and he can act as a drifting winger on the right side, with Lukas Podolski on the left. Rosicky has not seen much game action recently, and Wenger would have no compunction about leaving him on for the full 90 minutes.

Up front, Wenger would be foolish to not start Yaya Sanogo and rest Olivier Giroud.

Why not give Sanogo some invaluable game experience, while resting a player who has worked much harder this season than anyone can reasonably be asked to? Sanogo seems to be improving every game and would hopefully use the opportunity to net his first goal for Arsenal.

Assuming everyone stays fit, this leaves Arsenal with a balance of rested and sharpened players ahead of the biggest game of their season against Hull.


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