ARSENAL entertain Norwich at the Emirates on Wednesday evening. Danny Graham (@dannygpunter) shares his thoughts on the Premier League fixture.
Arsenal vs Norwich | Wednesday 1st July 2020, 18:00 | BT Sport
Norwich visit the Emirates on Wednesday evening in a desperate search for points to help lift them towards Premier League safety. It has something of a last chance saloon feel about it though as they sit six points (effectively seven due to their goal difference) behind West Ham with only seven games to save themselves.
The Canaries will be encouraged by a plucky showing against Manchester United at the weekend which saw the Norfolk outfit take the Red Devils to extra-time in the FA Cup but ultimately they fell short and it seems a reflection of their season as a whole where they have shown plenty of bluster, a little bit of quality, flashes of brilliance, but eventually just not good enough for the big league.
Arsenal return home after recent forays to the four corners of the country. Visits to Man City, Brighton, Southampton and Sheffield United have returned just three Premier League points and progression to an FA Cup semi- final but they go into Wednesday’s fixture with one thing on their minds and that’s to get back into the race for European football.
The Gunners sit 9 points off Wolves in fifth with a game in-hand, and remember that fifth could still be good enough for Champions League football next season depending on the outcome of Man City’s legal wrangle with UEFA. Mikel Arteta won’t have given up hope yet but if they are to get into the mix then a comfortable victory is the order of the day here and it’s one I expect them to deliver.
Although they have been much maligned in recent weeks, in no small part due to the David Luiz saga, it’s not up for debate that Arsenal still house some of the best talent in the division. If Arteta can get them playing as a cohesive unit then the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette have the ability to strike fear into better teams than Norwich.
Backed up by the youthful exuberance of the excellent Bukayo Saka and complimented by other young starlets such as Gabriel Martinelli, Callum Willock and Kieran Tierney, the foundations are there for Arsenal to become a Premier League force once more in the coming years. Defensively is where the frailties lie but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue here and whilst they will always leak chances, Norwich’s profligate finishing has been one of the hallmarks of their season.
With that in mind I’m going to take a chance on Arsenal to win on the Asian Handicap with a line of -1.25 (half stake returned if they win by one goal, full pay-out earned if they win by two or more) at 23/20 (Betfair). As a bare minimum I would expect half stakes returned with an Arsenal victory but the chances of a comfortable home success outweigh the prospect of Norwich keeping this closeo the fact we can get odds-against here seems a bit too big.
A couple of players who have been a chink of light for Norwich this season are Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell. Both are possibilities to leave in the summer window having had a taste of top-flight football and will be reluctant to drop down a tier.
Buendia for his part has been instrumental in a significant proportion of Norwich goals and counts himself amongst the top half dozen or so in the whole division for goal assists which is some accomplishment in a struggling side. In recent weeks he has also shown his tigerish nature and been getting stuck into the tackles making an amazing eight tackles in the FA Cup at the weekend.
A line of 4+ tackles at 6/5 looks tempting forBuendia but there doesn’t seem quite enough juice in the price for me so I will look at Cantwell for my second bet of the evening. He is as short as 11/10 for two shots with some bookmakers but Betfair make him a stand out 7/4 to achieve that feat and that looks a bet worth taking.
Cantwell's stats over the season don’t necessarily back up the selection at first glance but he has seemed to be playing a little more advanced in recent weeks with Alexander Tettey and Kenny McLean playing the deeper roles. That’s allowed him to get forward more and he even got on the score sheet at the weekend.
The 7/4 about two shots looks appealing and the 6/4 available for 1+ shot on-target also looks worth taking. The 6/4 poke is in the odds boost section rather than the normal player stats section.