View from the opposition: Alexis Sanchez is key to Arsenal’s title hopes
- Credit: PA
Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News sports reporter, and Arsenal supporter, Chris Wise looks ahead to the Gunners' clash with Norwich City at Carrow Road tomorrow afternoon.
What have Arsenal fans made of the season so far?
If they'd been offered it at the start of the season, I think most Arsenal fans would have taken fourth place in the league, just two points off top spot, at the end of November. But it's been a strange old season so far, highlighted by their first league game – a 2-0 home defeat against West Ham – and their most recent one, last weekend's 2-1 loss at West Brom. There has been plenty of good stuff in between but I'm not sure the team have really hit top gear yet.
Have injuries been the main cause of the Gunners' inconsistent results?
I don't think you can use that as an excuse as Arsenal can still put out an extremely strong team without the likes of Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, inset, and the like. The infuriating habit of over-playing and not taking chances is still there, as is the occasional frailty at the back, and that's why they continue to lose games they should have won.
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Is winning the title a realistic possibility?
Most certainly. Although it hasn't been a vintage campaign so far Arsenal are right up there – and the fact that Chelsea are 10 points behind them can only help their cause. To be honest I don't believe Manchester City are as strong as they were last season either, while I'm not sure Manchester United have got what it takes to finish top. The Gunners may just end up winning it by default.
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Which Arsenal players have impressed you most so far this season?
Two spring to mind. Little Chilean powerhouse Alexis Sanchez has been superb again this season and I can't think of too many better players currently plying their trade in English football. He's certainly right up there with the likes of Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard. Mesut Ozil is also becoming a key figure in midfield after a low-key start to his Arsenal career.
Does Arsene Wenger still have the full backing of supporters?
I can't speak for other people but I get the impression he does. As I see it Wenger is still the best man for the job as he approaches the 20th anniversary of his reign as manager. His teams have provided so many brilliant memories, even though my greatest moment as an Arsenal fan remains the injury-time Michael Thomas goal at Liverpool that secured the title on May 26, 1989.
Are you wary of Sunday's clash with the Canaries?
Most certainly. I think Norwich have made a decent start to the season and should really have a few more points under their belts by now. They have some good players and a good manager and are capable of giving anyone a good game on their day. You underestimate them at their peril and hopefully a fully focused Arsenal will turn up tomorrow. I don't want a repeat of the match in October 2012 when I sat alongside my Norwich supporting son in the Norwich and Peterborough Stand and watched uncomfortably as a lacklustre visiting side went down 1-0.
Do you think Norwich will stay up this season?
First and foremost I really want them to. Arsenal may be my team but ever since moving to Norfolk from Surrey in the mid-1970s I have followed the Canaries' fortunes, for a couple of years as a season ticket holder, and always want them to win if it doesn't affect the Gunners. A 'double' of Arsenal winning the title and Norwich staying up is a nice dream – and I certainly think the second part will come true. There are at least three worse sides than Norwich in the top flight – and providing they prove the point when they come face to face with them Alex Neil's men should be fine.
And finally, what's your prediction for the game?
I have got a feeling it will be a draw, let's say 1-1.