Arsenal have, of course, played all of their games so far away from the Emirates. Norwich have played all of theirs at Carrow Road. What does all that mean? Probably nothing, although if away sides really do benefit the most from the absence of crowds then perhaps Farke’s miracle survival bid is on.

Unusually good atmosphere at the Emirates

Barney is drinking it all in for us down there this evening.

Arsenal give contract kid Saka a rest. Reiss Nelson is among those to get a go, starting his first Premier League match of 2020. Mesut Ozil misses out again, possibly with a back injury. Matteo Guendouzi also misses out again, definitely not with a back injury.

Norwich look short at centre-back, where it seems as if Alex Tettey will partner Ben Godfrey.

Arsenal: Martinez; Mustafi, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, Tierney; Nelson, Lacazette, Aubameyang. Subs: Macey, Papastathopoulos, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Soares, Pepe, Willock, Nketiah, Saka.

Norwich: Krul; Aarons, Tettey, Godfrey, Lewis; Rupp, Trybull, McLean; Buendia, Pukki, Cantwell. Subs: McGovern, Vrancic, Hernandez, Stiepermann, Drmic, Duda, Idah, Thomas, Martin.

Today has already begun well for Arsenal. They’ve announced a new contract for Bukayo Saka and it means one of Europe’s best young players is tied down. Perhaps once upon a time that would not have been a big story – but Arsenal are currently hanging on the coat tails of the leading lights, where once they used to wear that mantle comfortably themselves, and currently need to take pleasure in whatever keeps them clinging on.

Another such thing would be three points against Norwich. That’s what they should be getting, because their opponents are running out of time for an unlikely escape from relegation. Daniel Farke’s side are usually good value and ask plenty of questions; they don’t tend to pay enough heed to the answers, though, and find themselves six points shy of safety. Home defeats to Southampton and Everton in the last fortnight have been limp, though they did show up well against Manchester United in the FA Cup.

Continue reading...