Huckerby - Gunners there to be shot at
The last man to score for Norwich City against Arsenal believes there is a chink in the former champions' armour as they prepare to visit Carrow Road.
Darren Huckerby found the net for the Canaries in both Premiership meetings with the Gunners in 2004-05, but they were swept aside in each game by an attack spearheaded by world-class players.
Arsenal's 4-1 victory at Norwich was the 44th game in a famous run of 49 matches unbeaten in the top flight. They won the return fixture at Highbury by the same score, though Huckerby had the consolation of scoring City's 1,000th top-flight goal with a fine solo effort.
Arsene Wenger's men still make for daunting opponents for Paul Lambert's team in Saturday's sell-out Premier League game (12.45pm), but with 17 goals conceded in their last four away games, they are not quite the 'Invincibles' of seven years ago.
'They are definitely a more vulnerable team. I don't think they have been as strong as they were at the back for several years,' said Huckerby.
'There is definitely a chance to get at them, and I think we will get chances against them.'
As a former winger, Huckerby has been excited by the contribution of Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett to City's campaign so far.
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He said: 'Pilkington has been excellent. He's always in the game with a chance of scoring. He seems to be able to be in the right place at the right time.
'Goals from wingers are something you need if your forwards don't get at least 10 or 12, and so far he's doing that.
'Bennett hasn't scored yet but he looks dangerous and perhaps just needs to be a bit more selfish at times.'
Nevertheless, Huckerby is well aware that Arsenal remain a potent force after winning five of their last six Premier League matches to move into seventh place.
He admits: 'It's a very tough game. We haven't kept a clean sheet all season and they have got the best forward in the league at the moment in Robin van Persie.
'Agbonlahor's pace caused us a lot of problems at Aston Villa and Theo Walcott is a lot quicker than that.'
It was Huckerby's pace that gave the Gunners a few headaches at Carrow Road in 2004, when defender Lauren was lucky to escape a red card in the first half for pulling him down, and he later scored from the spot after being upended by Justin Hoyte.
'I think Lauren should have been sent off,' Huckerby recalled. 'When you are clean through and someone brings you down, it should be a red card.
'But I'm not sure it would have made much difference. We were playing against a team that had gone all the previous season without losing.
'At the time they were still on that unbeaten run, still full of confidence with world-class players.
'It was only really Chelsea's money that stopped them winning the title again.
'If you look at the quality of players they had in the forwards – Henry, Reyes, Pires, Ljungberg on the left, Bergkamp coming off the bench – you're talking about four or five of the best players in the world, or not far off. It was a tough ask.'
Fittingly, it was Huckerby who scored City's landmark goal in the return match, when they were sunk by a Thierry Henry hat-trick.
'I wouldn't say it was one of my best goals, but if you stick one in the top corner at Highbury it's quite nice,' he said.
Double player of the year winner Huckerby, 35, is cautiously optimistic about City's prospects for the rest of the season.
'It's been superb, really,' he said. 'We have had games where things have gone for us, and where things have gone against us, but we can go into every game in a positive frame of mind. It's an exciting time to be a Norwich fan.
'But we have to be careful as Blackpool found out last season. It's a ruthless league.
'The teams that have come up have strengthened and are going well but you can easily go on a run where you don't win for quite a few games.
'There is a long, long way to go and at the moment teams like Blackburn and Bolton are not that far behind.'
• Darren Huckerby will sign copies of his new autobiography at Waterstone's, Castle Street, Norwich, at 3.30pm on Saturday, after the game against Arsenal.