Arsene Wenger calls for early goals from Arsenal against Norwich

Gunners are battling their way to a top four finish

Manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal side to come out all guns blazing against Norwich on Saturday as they look to maintain their charge towards the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

Arsenal have built up a head of steam over the run-in, with seven wins in the last nine Premier League matches as well as a memorable away victory at Bayern Munich as they bowed out of Europe.

Should Wenger's men beat the Canaries - who are limping towards top-flight survival with seven draws so far in 2013 - then they would leapfrog both Chelsea and Tottenham up into third place as neither of their London rivals are in league action this weekend because of the FA Cup semi-finals.

Arsenal raced out of the blocks in their last home match against bottom club Reading with an early goal, before going on to win 4-1.

Wenger expects more of the same on Saturday.

"Once we are in front, the teams who usually defend against us have to come out and that gives us space to develop our game even better. That shows you that when we start our games in a positive way, we can dominate," Wenger told Arsenal Player.

"It shows you just how important the confidence is to go into the games and to have a strong start."

Arsenal lost 1-0 at Norwich back in November, sparking a superb 10-match unbeaten run by Chris Hughton's men which they have not been able to emulate over the second half of the campaign.

Conversely, following their own inconsistencies, Wenger's side are now finally producing the required standard on a regular basis as they look to secure Champions League football once again.

"I believe our team has always developed a way to play that makes them stronger throughout the season. That is maybe one of the consequences of it - that we go from strength to strength,"

Wenger said."We should not forget that, in recent seasons, we have started with young squads who have learnt first during the season, or with squads who have been disturbed because we sold players and we had to rebuild a team.

"Of course it takes a while to get into a good momentum [after that]."

Arsenal are expected to have England duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere available this weekend following their injury lay-offs.

However, Wenger revealed there is a concern for Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky, who scored both goals in last weekend's 2-1 win at West Brom but is a "big doubt" because of a hamstring problem.

Centre-half Per Mertesacker will be suspended after his red card at The Hawthorns for denying a goal-scoring opportunity, which resulted in a penalty and a nervy finish for the visitors.

With the 6ft 6ins German not available, captain Thomas Vermaelen is set for a recall, having been benched since the defeat at Tottenham.

Wenger, though, has hailed the attitude of the Belgian defender, who took the skipper's armband following Robin van Persie's summer sale to Manchester United.

"He took it in a remarkable way [when he lost his place]," the Arsenal manager said.

"He is a great man and I didn't make him captain by coincidence. I knew there is something mentally special there.

"Vermaelen responds in positive situations and in less positive situations like when you don't play

."They know there could be rotation with the three centre backs from the start of the season, depending on good and less good periods of any individual player. He [Vermaelen] took that remarkably well."

Arsenal, meanwhile, has confirmed a second match in Japan as part of the club's Asia tour this summer.

As well as a game against Wenger's former club Nagoya Grampus, the Gunners are also set to feature in the Saitama City Cup against Urawa Reds on July 26.

PA

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