Gutless Gunners could break unwelcome records
A 6-0 victory away at West Brom in the Carabao Cup is far and away the highlight in what, so far, has been a dismal start to the season for Arsenal.
Defensive calamities were at the root of a 2-0 defeat to Brentford in the Premier League opener, they were outclassed at home to Chelsea in their second match, losing by the same score, and they were gutless at the Etihad two weeks ago, going down 5-0 to the champions, Manchester City.
Gunners’ captain, Granit Xhaka, certainly didn’t help his side’s cause by getting himself sent off in the 35th minute but it was a done deal by then anyway and it could very easily have been a bigger margin of defeat.
City were smooth and on song, but Arsenal offered no fight whatsoever and they failed to record a single shot on target.
This is already Arsenal’s worst ever Premier League start and it’s no surprise to see manager, Mikel Arteta, trading as the warm favourite in the Next Manger To Leave Position market.
Should they lose to Norwich on Saturday it will be the first time they’ve lost their opening four fixtures since the 1923-24 season and should they fail to score, it will be the first time in the club’s history that they will have opened-up a campaign without scoring in any of their first four fixtures.
If the unthinkable occurred and they lost by four, they’d break Swindon Town’s Premier League record of the worst ever start, set back in 1993.
The good news for Arteta and his team is that Saturday’s opponents, Norwich, have also started the season poorly, and they too are capable of breaking Swindon’s record…
A long season ahead for the Canaries
Having finished bottom of the pile in the 2019-20 Premier League season, after losing their last ten games in-a-row, Daniel Farke guided his Norwich City side straight back up last season. The Canaries won the Championship in impressive style, by six points, but it’s business as usual back in the top-flight and they have a remarkably similar record to Saturday’s hosts.
Like the Gunners, Norwich have progressed in the Carabao Cup thanks to a 6-0 victory (at home to Bournemouth) and they’ve also been beaten 5-0 by City at the Etihad. They were comfortably beaten by Liverpool (3-0) at home last time out and the only reason they sit above the Gunners at the bottom of the table is because they managed to score on the opening weekend of the season. Teemu Pukki , who scored 42% of Norwich’s Premier League goals in the 2019-20 Premier League season, netted from the spot just before half time before they went on to lose 2-1 at home to Leicester.
Unsurprisingly, the Canaries are already trading at odds-on for the drop and it looks like being a long season for the Carrow Road faithful.
History points to a home win but hosts are worth opposing
Arsenal have a very good record at home to the Canaries. Since Norwich won their first ever Premier League match at Highbury (4-2) back in August 1992, the Gunners have won six of eight Premier League encounters at home against them and there have been two draws.
The Gunners have scored at least three goals in six of their last seven home league games against Norwich, winning 4-0 in July 2020 in their last such meeting so Arteta couldn’t have hoped for better opponents to get back on track if history is anything to go by, but I’m not convinced it is.
Arsenal have been really poor so far this season and they were very disappointing against City last time out so they make absolutely no appeal at long odds-on in the outright market.
The Gunners are deservedly propping up the rest and they have the lowest xG total (1.7) and the highest xG against (8.4) in the Premier League so far this season and they’ve been getting progressively worse at the Emirates of late.
In the 2018/19 season they won 14 of their 19 games, losing only twice, and the following season they only won 10 of their 19 but they still only lost three times. Having no fans for the bulk of the campaign was no doubt a factor but they were better away from home last season, winning only eight of 19 at home and 10 of 19 away, and they’ve kept just one clean sheet in their last nine Premier League home games.
Although they’re playing the team most likely to finish bottom of the pile come May, Arsenal are playing so poorly that you have to wonder if the team are backing the manager and a small bet on Draw or Away in the Double Chance market looks the way to go at a juicy 2.8415/8.
Looking at the alternative markets, given he’s scored four times in the last two meetings between the two teams, Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one to consider in the To Score market but he was a disinterested and anonymous figure against City last time out.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter