[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he football returns today and so does the blogging.
I must apologise for the absence but it was hard to avoid. Long story short; I’m in Berlin now after another long flight from Brisbane and have set up camp here indefinitely. Regular readers will know I called this my home for over a year during 2010 and 2011 and I am delighted to be back. Now that I’m settled normal blogging service will resume henceforth.
It’s just in time too. With the international break done and dusted the one true love our lives, Arsenal, is back. A number of our players had interesting international experiences: Theo Walcott had his lung bruised by San Marino goalkeeper, Olivier Giroud scored a stunning equaliser against Santi Cazorla’s Spain and Per Mertesacker scored a goal before watching Germany crumble and concede four to Sweden.
Now they, and the rest of the squad, assemble to face a Norwich side that sit in the relegation zone.
These are the sort of games that simply must be won to harbor any sort of hope of challenging for the title. Norwich are not a terrible team by any stretch, they showed that last season by giving us two very difficult matches, but they have looked disorganised so far this season and are yet to register a win. Now would not be a good time for them to change that statistic.
Injury news for Arsenal will mean that Vito Mannone continues in goal, Laurent Koscielny is out while André Santos deputises for Kieran Gibbs at left-back. Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere will both be in the squad but most likely the bench, with Carl Jenkinson continuing his impressive start to the season in Sagna’s spot and a midfield trio of Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Cazorla likely to start.
Up front Wenger would be mad not to ride off Giroud’s good recent form and throw him into the central striker role, while Lukas Podolski and Gervinho look the most likely wide players. Gervinho was poor against West Ham though, and there is a case for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to start on the right.
It will be a heart-warming sight to see Little Jack Wilshere on the team sheet. He will take some time to return to the form that he produced when he outclassed Barcelona at the Emirates but we all know what he is capable of and will be eager to see what he can bring to the team. The thought of a fit-again Wilshere teaming up with Arteta and Cazorla is exciting, to say the least.
While I fully expect us to go to Carrow Road and get three points there will be a couple of things I will be particularly looking out for. The first is the performance of Thomas Vermaelen, who needs to curb his attacking thrusts, and the second is the continued impact of Giroud up front. A few people have been too quick to judge Giroud but if his performance at West Ham was anything to go by, not to mention the beautiful header against Spain, then he may well be on the up.
In short, I’m absolutely delighted to be back in Berlin and able to watch Arsenal at a reasonable hour again! Fingers crossed for three points and wherever you might be watching, enjoy the game!