Below are my Arsenal player ratings for the game. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section below and please remember to like us on Facebook.
For whatever reason, it took until the 80th minute for Arsenal to really hit full throttle and really push for those three vital points. It may have been a slightly controversial penalty, but Norwich should not have had the free kick that led to their goal so I guess we are even.
Arsenal Player Ratings:
Fabianski – 7 Not much he could do to keep out Michael Turner’s header, but made a good save in the dying moments to keep us in the game. Has done quite well in recent weeks as he looks to show why he deserves to keep his place in the team ahead of Szczesny.
Sagna – 6 Had a decent game defensively, and although he did get forward he really needs to work on his crossing if he wants to make more of an attacking contribution. He had one decent cross for Giroud’s header, which hit the bar. Was substituted for Oxlade-Chamberlain with 10 minutes left as we look to push for the win.
Vermaelen – 7 A good performance from our captain, who has spent the last few games on the sidelines. Maybe has to take some of the blame for poor marking for Turner’s goal. Not sure whether he will play on Tuesday against Everton with Mertesacker back from suspension.
Koscielny – 7 Like Vermaelen, his positioning was good and he made some good interceptions, but allowed Turner too much space for the header from the free kick.
Gibbs – 6.5 His crossing was a bit off and he really struggled to deal with the aerial threat of Kamara, but otherwise an ok game.
Arteta – 7 Capped off a cool and composed performance with a well-taken penalty. Take note Adebayor – that’s how you take a penalty! He was, as usual, the best passer of the ball and made more touches than any other player.
Wilshere – 5 Not the performance that we expected from Jack after 6 weeks or so on the sidelines and was quite rightly substituted for Walcott with half an hour remaining. I think that he was just lacking in match fitness and maybe would not have started if Rosicky had been fit.
Ramsey – 8 My MOTM.Aaron has an incredible work rate and is always tracking back when necessary. He made some great tackles and was one of the only players to put in much effort in the first half. I really like him in the midfield alongside Arteta. He has really come into his own while Jack was out.
Gervinho – 5 A typical performance of Gervinho pre-African Cup of Nations. Had the best chance of the game after 29 minutes when he took the ball round the keeper, but his touch was too heavy and the chance was wasted. There were a few other good opportunities which he wasted. Substituted for Podolski with half an hour left.
Cazorla – 7 He didn’t look particularly comfortable on the left-hand-side and kept drifting in towards the middle where he wanted to play. Like Arteta, a nice and tidy performance but nothing spectacular on the Santi Scale.
Giroud – 6.5 Hit the bar with a header from Sagna’s cross in 23rd minute, but was otherwise very anonymous in the first half. Finally came into the game with about 15-20 minutes remaining, won the penalty and scored a few minutes later. I am not sure whether it will be credited as Giroud’s goal or if Sebastian Bassong actually got the last touch. It’s difficult to tell and one for the dubious goals pannel at the end of the season.
Podolski – 7 Hit the bar with a thunderous effort from close range which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a fantastic save from Mark Bunn. Played a nice 1-2 with Oxlade-Chamberlain for the second goal and scored the third to seal the win with a minute remaining.
Walcott – 6.5 Made some great runs in behind the Norwich defence and set up Podolski’s goal.
Oxe – 7 A fantastic assist for Giroud/Bassong’s goal with a great run, a nice 1-2 with Podolski and low whipped cross across the box.
* All of the substitutes played an important part in the win. Credit has to go to Wenger, who clearly realised that something was wrong and made the necessary changes, including taking off Sagna for AOC. I don’t normally agree with all of Wenger’s changes but yesterday they were spot on.
With this years Champions League campaign now well and truly over, Arsenal’s only focus will be on ensuring that we make the most of the 10 remaining league games that ultimately decide whether or not we return to Europe’s elite competition next season.
Despite going out of the competition, the team showed the “mental toughness” that Wenger talks about so often. The performance against Bayern should give us some much-needed confidence and will hopefully prove to be a turning point in what has been a torrid season so far.
Swansea away is never an easy fixture. The Swans haven’t lost at the Liberty Stadium since the beginning of December and will be looking for their 4th consecutive home win. Manchester Untied, Chelsea and Liverpool have all failed to win in Wales, but I am sure that we can be the team to buck the trend.
We play before both Spurs and Chelsea, so it is important that we let them know before they play on Sunday that we are right behind them. Who knows, maybe one of them will slip up?
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Kieran Gibbs is set be rested as a precaution after returning to action against Bayern in midweek, but Nacho Monreal is available after being cup-tied in the Champions League. Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen were both rested for the Bayern game and may feature, but Jack Wilshere (ankle), Lukas Podolski (ankle) and Bacary Sagna (knee) are all out.
Leon Britton (hip) and Luke Moore (calf) both face late fitness tests. Chico Flores (ankle) and Kemy Agustien (thigh) are both out, but left-back Neil Taylor could return after a long period on the sidelines with a broken/dislocated ankle.
Arsenal have conceded only 13 away goals this season, the joint fewest in the Premier League with Manchester City. Swansea have conceded 19 home goals – the joint worst defensive record in the top half of the Premier League table along with, um, us…
Expect goals. Arsenal have scored in each of the last 7 away games, while Swansea have scored in each of their last 7 home games.
Expect late goals. In the three matches that we have played against Swansea this season, six of the seven goals have been scored after the 81st minute.
Swansea 1-3 Arsenal The team played fantastically against Bayern and will be full of confidence going into the game. We may be missing Wilshere and Podolski, but we still our little Mozart in Tomas Rosicky and the magician that is Santi Cazorla.
Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news following our 2-0 win over Bayern Munich and ahead of our Premier League game against Swansea.
If Arsenal can play anything like we did on Wednesday night then I am sure that we will come away with the result that we need. Jack Wilshere’s injury is particularly worrying, but Tomas Rosicky (or Abou Diaby) can cover and then we have a 2-week break until we play Reading because of the World Cup qualifiers.
Bacary Sagna, Lukasz Podolski & Jack Wilshere:
“Sagna and Podolski will not be back. And Wilshere, as we know, is out as well. So the only one who will come back is Monreal because he was not qualified for the Champions League.”
“I think he will be out on Saturday. He had a little reaction on his thigh. He is not injured but we have to be cautious with it. He might be out.”
The squad after the Bayern game:
“Apart from that everyone who played [at Bayern] should be OK. There are bumps and bruises after a game of that intensity but that should be it.”
Earlier in the week Wenger confirmed that Wilshere will be out for around 3 weekswith an ankle injury. Last summer Jack had surgery on his left ankle, and Wenger says that he has been compensating by putting extra pressure on the right ankle in order to protect the left one. However, three weeks never means three weeks with Arsenal, and there are many on Twitter who are suggesting that Jack might not feature again this season.
I think that it’s fair to say that it’s been a pretty testing week for Arsene Wenger. Out of the FA Cup and pretty much out of the Champions League within a few days, and we cannot afford to fall further behind in the league. A win against Aston Villa is vital to lift the team spirit before 3 tough games against Spurs, Everton & Bayern Munich.
Being at home is not exactly a big advantage for Arsenal at the moment. We were at the Emirates against Blackburn in the FA Cup & against Bayern on Tuesday. The home crowd really need to get behind the team on Saturday & hope that we come out all guns blazing. No more slow first halves. No more booing.
Christian Benteke, who has scored 6 goals in his last 5 games, is definitely one to watch. However, the fact remains that Villa are in 17th in the league and should be beaten without too much trouble. Here’s hoping.
Bacary Sagna has been ruled out with a knee injury, but Carl Jenkinson returns from suspension.
Kieran Gibbs is still out with an thigh injury.
Nacho Monreal returns to the squad, having been ineligible to play against Bayern Munich.
Gabby Agbonlahor and Karim El Ahmadi should return to the Villa squad having missed the last game against West Ham through illness.
Charles N’Zogbia, Chris Herd, Mark Albrighton, Gary Gardener, Richard Dunne and Stiliyan Petrov are all out.
Match facts/Head to head stats
Villa have beaten us twice at the Emirates, in 2008 & 2011. Other than these 2 losses, we are undefeated in 26 of the last 28 matches against Aston Villa in all competitions.
We have won only two of the last six home games against Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Villa have had more yellow cards than any other Premier League team this season (54), but Arsenal have been shown the fewest (24).
The Arsenal staring XI to face Aston Villa is not as easy to predict as you would have thought. On the one hand, there are obviously players in our squad who are stronger than others and almost pick themselves. On the other hand, Wenger put out a strong line-up against Bayern Munich and very few of the players really got to grips with the game. We have a number of other talented players waiting on the sidelines who are itching for some game-time, so maybe Wenger should consider changing it up and resting a few players before the Spurs game.
Wojciech Szczesny is an ever-present in the Arsenal line-up because we have no other decent keeps challenging him. Carl Jenkinson will return to right-back in the absence of Bacary Sagna, who has picked up a small knee injury. Koscielny, who was much better than Mertesacker in midweek, would be my choice to partner Vermaelen, with Nacho Monreal, who was ineligable to play for us in the Champions League, at left-back.
There is no argument that our “strongest” midfield is Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla. However, if Wenger wants to rest some players then he can also chose from Thomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, Coquelin or Ramsey. We need to start using some of these players more regularly as we move towards the end of the season. For the first time in a few years we actually have a relatively strong squad. If Wenger is so worried about Wilshere’s burnout or Cazorla playing too many games, why doesn’t Rosicky play?? Also, Aaron Ramsey is a very competent central midfielder. The Welshman really took an unfair amount of criticism at the beginning of the season. Rosicky & Diaby played with Arteta against Blackburn, so I am hoping that one of them will make it into the team.
Having struggled to make any sort of impact through the middle against Bayern, Theo Walcott could be moved out wide with Giroud returning to the starting line-up. I like having Olivier in the team because he gives us some physical presence and a target-man, which is something that we really lacked on Tuesday. Podolski would be my choice on the left.
Laurent Koscielny returns after serving a 1-game ban for his rugby tackle on Eden Dzeko last weekend,
Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were rested in midweek against Swansea,
Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta & Lukasz Fabianski are all injured,
Gervinho is away at the African Cup of Nations.
Predicted starting XI
I am not sure whether Arsene Wenger will want to start Abou Diaby for 3 games in a row given his recent injury problems, so you could see Francis Coquelin in central midfield. There is also no way of knowing whether Walcott will be on the wing or start as striker (in which case Giroud will be on the bench).
Because Podolski was rested I think that he will start. Otherwise I would be predicting Aaron Ramsey to start on the left wing. We also have AOC, who did start against City but was taken off rather quickly thanks to Koscielny.
John Terry was on the bench against Southampton in midweek and could make his comeback tomorrow if he passes a late fitness test,
Jon Obi Mikel & Victor Moses are both away at the African Cup of Nations,
Yossi Benayoun & Oriel Romeu are both missing with knee injuries.
Predicted starting XI
With Frank Lampard apparently about to agree a pre-contract with LA Galaxy, it will be interesting to see if he keeps his place in the Chelsea line-up. The Blues do have David Luiz who can play in the center with Ramires, but surely Lampard is a player that they cannot afford to leave out? I also think that Benitez will chose to start with Torres over Ba. Torres only played 10 minutes against Southampton. Ba played the whole game.
Apart from Lukasz Fabianski, Arsenal have an almost completely clean bill of health. Abou Diaby and Andre Santos are probably lacking match fitness, but the big blow is that Olivier Giroud missed training all week with a cut to his knee and will face a late fitness test.
I am predicting a pretty standard and full-strength starting XI, but the lack of injuries also means that we will have a strong subs bench. I would love to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Rosicky start, but we all know that Wenger is going to start Ramsey.
Manchester City not only have Sergio Aguero missing with a hamstring injury, but Yaya Toure is away at the African Cup of Nations and Samir Nasri is suspended. All good news for Arsenal. City have not won at Arsenal in the league for 30something years, so I am feeling pretty optimistic. Their starting XI is still pretty good, but in my opinion their bench is not as strong as ours. Also, I have a feeling that Vermaelen and Mertesacker would be much happier playing against Dzeko and Tevez than Aguero and Nasri.
Substitutes from: Pantilimon, Nastacic, Sinclair, Balotelli and a few other randoms…
Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest Arsenal team news ahead of Sunday’s big game against Manchester City. The biggest injury concern is Olivier Giroud, who took a big bash to the knee in the FA Cup 3rd round draw at Swansea and is said to be “50:50″. Abou Diaby and Andre Santos returned to action in midweek in an U21 fixture against West Brom, but it is unlikely that they will be fit enough to make the team on Sunday. Lukasz Fabianski is nearing a return after a long and drawn out period on the sidelines.
“Everyone is fit from last weekend apart fromOlivier Giroud. He has not been practising because of the cut on the knee he got at Swansea. We’ll have a final test on Saturday to see if he is involved against Man City. It is a 50:50. We’ll see.”
Andre Santos & Abou Diaby
“I want to see how they react to the under-21 game they played in midweek. But we have so many games coming up now, it is good they are back.”
“I thought he did well. He was arguably the pick of the senior players that came in. I thought him and Jenkinson both applied themselves really well. Diaby came into the game and started to develop his all-round game. He got on the ball and controlled the game. He can slow the tempo down or speed it up. I thought he was very good. Hopefully he’s come through the game well.”
“He is not far away [from full training] now, two or three weeks.”
Losing Giroud for the City game will be a big blow. He may also be missing for the FA Cup replay on Wednesday. Of course, he may pass a late fitness test in which case there is no worry. With Chamakh gone we have only two natural striking options – Walcott and Podolski. Bearing in mind how much Walcott has played through the middle in recent weeks I would expect him to start in the middle. However, we are yet to see what Podolski is really capable of if we play him in that position. It could be interesting.
1) The Arsenal players underestimated Southampton. I am not sure whether putting 7 past Newcastle meant that the team thought that Southampton would be a stroll in the park, but the Arsenal players were extremely lackadaisical. Even though we had strung together four consecutive league victories at the end of 2012, I was not convinced at any point that we were going to take all 3 points against a team that started the afternoon in the relegation places.
2) Bacary Sagna was poor once again. Sagna had a poor game against Newcastle and an equally poor game yesterday afternoon. His passing was off, his crossing was not great, his defending was weak and he made a hideous hash of the clearance that led to Southampton’s goal.
3) There was very little for Podolski or Gibbs. The ball was always played down the right hand side with Oxlade-Chamberlain; Lukas Podolski barely had a touch, which is strange bearing in mind his impact against Newcastle. Podolski’s anonymity is not always just because he doesn’t impose himself on the game (sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t!), but also because he just doesn’t receive the ball.
4) Were we lucky to have got a draw? I am not sure that there was enough of a foul on Laurent Koscielny to deny Southampton a second goal. Originally I thought that it was given as offside, but apparently the linesman was flagging for a foul. I think we were a little bit lucky with that one.
5) Theo Walcott was extremely restricted in the centre. Like Podolski, he didn’t really get the ball and there wasn’t really enough movement. The Southampton defence played well and stopped Theo from making his usual runs. One thing that was very noticable is that he can’t hold up the ball the way that somebody like Giroud can.
6) As mentioned earlier, we won 4 and drew 1 in the Christmas period, which is still pretty good form. The only team above us in the Premier League form guide for the last 6 games is United. However, we appear to be running to keep still. Chelsea and Spurs have taken the same number of points (13) from the last 6 games, and Everton/Liverpool seem to be doing ok too.
7) We need 10 points from next 5 games to keep momentum, and we need to make signings. Hopefully the players will be more up for it against Chelsea, City and Liverpool (who we play in 3 of the next 4 games…). However, we definitely need a few signings in the January transfer window.
8) Speaking of signings, we saw Luke Shaw in action. The 17-year-old left-back is being heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, the idea being that Andre Santos would be on his way out. Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen, but bear in mind that Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain both also came from the Southampton academy.
Arsenal.com have named the Arsenal starting XI and substitutes that will face Wigan in today’s early kick-off (in just under an hour’s time). The team is the same as that which played against Reading on Monday evening.
The only difference to the squad is that Andrey Arshavin is in on the substitutes bench to replace Olivier Giroud and Carl Jenkison replaces Rosicky. Rumours on Twitter are that Giroud is ill and that Tomas Rosicky is injured (again). There was no mention of an injury to Rosicky in Wenger’s pre-match press conference, but Tomas was apparently missing from training yesterday. I have no more details, but I am sure that Wenger will tell us more after the game.
As you probably are already aware, a win will take us temporarily above Chelsea into 3rd place. Obviously whether we will stay there depends on how Chelsea, Spurs, Everton and West Brom do in their respective games this weekend.