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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific