The way I see it - Norwich City v Arsenal

Last updated : 27 August 2004 By Jason Hogan

Having thrown in an unprintable jibe at Chelsea and ManUre in the act of replying, I also said that I was very, very proud man and with that I cracked open another couple of beers.

Make no mistake, my fellow Gooners, I really meant it when I said that I was very proud of the fact that that we had broken Forest's record. I mean, going 43 games unbeaten in England's top flight is not bad for a club that was widely considered to be on the road to oblivion, with no team, no squad, no money and therefore no hope of winning anything major again just over a year ago.

It's funny how much a difference a year makes, huh? As a perfect example of what I getting at, let's take Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror. Now this is saying something I grant you but, of all the press hacks (or should that be the lynch mob?) that were mapping out our irreparable demise a year ago he was far and away the most forthright.

So, when I bought the Mirror yesterday, I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw first of all his headline "31 players, 43 games, one hell of a football team" and then a little caption under his name which decreed that he personally bore witness to 29 out of the 43 games. I can honestly say that I was embarrassed for the two-faced bar steward.

Looking back on the Wednesday's game, well, I got the impression whilst listening to the game on the radio that the first half was very typical of all the games we have had in the past against Blackburn. It was generally a tight, awkward first half for the Gunners and moments of inspiration were few and far between.

Thankfully, we managed to get our noses in front early in the second half (with what was a cracking goal, I have to say) and the rest from there was, quite literally, history.

Of course, having broken the all-time record, the media, typically, are still coming out with some rather obtuse theories about how great our team is and how it compares directly to THAT Forest side.

Well just for the record I do not give a toss about how we compare with Forest or anybody else. I prefer to look at the facts and, when it came to that it was Matt Le Tissier, of all people, who hit the nail flush on the head for me.

Le Tissier was watching our game on behalf of the Sky Sports team and afterwards he said that given that the Premiership is the toughest league in the world, where everybody is supposedly has a genuine chance of beating anyone else at anytime, the Arsenal, in breaking the record, have proved themselves to be the only exception to that rule.

This is the sort of thing that we Gooners should focus on - the facts. I know that there are things out there that are still to be achieved but I also know what our team has achieved, particularly in recent times, under Wenger already and I for one will NEVER be railroaded by the press and the media into doubting our achievements or questioning the potential we have right now for further success.

Now, having touched on the subject of potential, I suppose it's a good time to talk about Saturday's opponents and they are, of course, Norwich City.

I must say that that the Premiership new boys have acquitted themselves pretty well so far. True, the Canaries have two draws and a defeat on their record so far but of course their defeat did come at Old Trafford and whilst they were the first Premiership side to lose there this season I think it's safe to say (though I would LOVE to be wrong) that they will not be the last.

Indeed, it is worth pointing out that Norwich did have their moments at Old Trafford and although they were a definite second best in terms of possession and territorial advantage they made ManUre fight all the way.

Interestingly enough I honestly thought that The Canaries actually went up to St James's Park in the week with a decent chance of coming away from there with something given the unrest that surrounds Newcastle these days and in the end my instincts were right. The way that Norwich fought back from 2-0 down was impressive and I thought that they were a touch unfortunate not to win the game in the end.

The one disappointment for Norwich boss Nigel Worthington, is that red tape will deprive him of the services of a young chap that not only scored up at Newcastle but also should be a fairly familiar name to all Arsenal fans - I'm talking about David Bentley of course.

On the other hand, Worthington should be able to call on the services of Darren Huckerby up front. Now although this boy really is the archetypal enigma and he has had more clubs than Tiger Woods there is something, in a purely footballing sense you understand, about this chap that I like.

He still has terrific pace and if he brings his "A" game to the table and gets to work Pascal Cygan, our afternoon could prove to be far from comfortable.

Another man to watch out for is Leon McKenzie. I was impressed with what I saw of him in the week particularly with his ability to hold the ball up.

To me, this game has all the hallmarks of a typical banana skin game. Everyone connected with Norwich knows they have nothing to lose and they will be determined to enjoy the fact that the Premiership champions, no less are coming into their back yard.

There will definitely be a cup tie atmosphere at Carrow Road on Saturday evening and as we all know upsets do still happen in such environments. I hope that the Gunners do not find themselves on the wrong end of one here.