Norwich City vs. Arsenal Preview: Day in the Park

look at this man - Paul Gilham

A brief little runout before the real action next weekend at Wembley.

Norwich City vs. Arsenal
Sunday, May 11, 10 AM EDT
Carrow Road, Norwich, East Anglia
Televisual delights: MSNBC
Form: NOR LLLLD | ARS DWWWW

Norwich City will welcome confirmed fourth-placers Arsenal to Carrow Road tomorrow on "Championship Sunday"; that particular appellation does not really apply to the visitors and certainly not to the home side (although the word does denote where they will be next season, all apologies to lovely person Stephen Fry). The Canaries are firmly ensconced in 18th place, and although a victory tomorrow against Arsenal would pull them level on points with West Brom, they have to win by at least 17 goals to pull out of relegation, so. One glance at their recent form above tells the story, and it's a sad one for the Norwich faithful.

Arsenal cannot do much to get into third; they would need to win by a similarly impossible margin for that to happen. This makes the match tomorrow basically a farewell for the Norwich squad in front of their home support, and if the teams play at anything more than an exhibition pace, I'd be very surprised. Being that Arsenal have that ol' FA Cup final next Saturday to play still, one would expect Arsene Wenger to name an XI comprised mainly of squad players and the perhaps-soon-to-be-departed. However, one never can tell with Wenger, and he may be tempted to run out some key players to keep them a little zippy for the final:

"We go there to try to win the game. We want to finish on a high, we want to get 79 points and make it as tight as possible at the top.

"If you get to that level it shows you're ready to fight for the title again. From that basis we want to build on for next season and get over 80.

"Also, in preparing for the FA Cup final, it's important to feel that you play well in the game before."

-- arsenal.com

Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, and Santi Cazorla are all likely to make way for others; look for Yaya Sanogo to start, along with perhaps a return for Abou Diaby; Kim Kallstrom could be in the works as well as Thomas Vermaelen (perhaps even starting in place of Per Mertesacker, who has played almost every minute this year). Even such rumored presences as Hector Bellerin, Chuba Akpom, and Isaac Hayden could see a runout tomorrow from the bench. Jack Wilshere could be available, but one doubts whether Wenger would play him for more than 20 minutes or so just to get some legs back before the cup final, where his role might be larger. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains out and a doubt for the cup final as well, so hopefully he recovers soon.

Other than that, there isn't really much to say ahead of the match tomorrow other than for everyone to just find one's favorite springtime watching location, cook one up some eggs and some other brunchy delights, some strong coffee, and enjoy the pressure-free match before one freaks out the whole week before the cup final.

Match prediction: COFFEEEEEEE and an Arsenal win.

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