With two victories in their first four matches since the restart, it’s difficult to get a read on just how prepared Arsenal are for their first home match in 16 weeks.
A lot has changed since the Gunners last took on Norwich City. Arsenal have a new manager, a new vision and a set of fresh, young players who are thriving under these testing times.
Arsenal will look to make it three on the bounce as they welcome relegation-threatened Norwich to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night, a game that is massively important for both sides.
For Arsenal, there’s the smallest glimmer of hope that a European place could be snapped up if Man City are to be formally banned from the Champions League and Europa League.
For Norwich, it’s a case of getting whatever they can from their remaining games to mount some sort of recovery from the likelihood of playing Championship football next season.
Whichever way you look at this, it’s more than just ‘another Premier League’ game on Wednesday, and we’ll be looking out for many reactions from Mikel Arteta given the scenarios regarding several key players across the squad.
The Gunners welcome Cedric Soares into the squad for the very first time since his loan move from Southampton. After recently signing a contract extension, the right-back will be looking to make an instant impression after shaking off a number of injuries. Not expected to be in the starting XI, Arteta did comment on how much Cedric will offer the side in the final third.
A key trio will all be assessed on ahead of Wednesday night, with a late call expected on Mesut Ozil, David Luiz and Lucas Torreira. The latter is the most likely of those three to come into the starting XI, with Arteta still trying to identify his best midfield pairing after Matteo Guendouzi fell out of favour for his poor attitude.
Bernd Leno is progressing well with his rehabilitation and is expected to return to training in four weeks time, meaning he could be in line for selection when the 2020/21 campaign kicks off in September. Pablo Mari is another one on the long-term injury list, with the earliest he may return to training being two months from now. This is an injury that will require plenty of patience, so it could well be Christmas before we see the Spaniard in an Arsenal shirt.
There is still no confirmed return date on Gabriel Martinelli and Calum Chambers, who have been ruled out for the remainder of this season. It seems Martinelli will be the bigger loss of the two, with his terrific form cut short during his debut season.
The Canaries star man, Todd Cantwell, has been declared fit after a slight injury scare during their 2-1 defeat to Man United in the FA Cup quarter final.
Following his red card, Timm Klose will serve his one-match suspension meaning Norwich will be without their aerial presence in the heart of defence.
Lukas Rupp, Max Aarons and Adam Idah all suffered knocks during Saturday’s defeat and manager Daniel Farke has said he will have to make a late decision on whether they feature.
P31 W10 D13 L8
Last five: WWLLW
Injuries: Chambers, Martinelli, Leno, Mari, Ozil (doubt), Torreira (doubt), Luiz (doubt)
P31 W5 D6 L20
Last five: LWLLL
Injuries: Rupp, Aarons, Idah
Likely Line-Up (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Emiliano Martinez
Defence: Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney
Midfield: Granit Xhaka, Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka
Attack: Nicolas Pepe, Eddie Nketiah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang