22 December 2021, 17:00
The traditional Boxing Day fixture sees Arsenal with one of the least stressful ties of the round, at least on paper, as they travel to a Norwich City side that have struggled to make their mark on the Premier League this year. But they'll go to Carrow Road with memories of their opening day defeat at Brentford still fresh.
No Aubameyang, no problem?
Even without their talismanic captain, Arsenal found themselves finally breaking into the top four for the first time this season with their recent 2-0 win over close rivals for that position, West Ham. While fans will hope Aubameyang's time on the sidelines was a brief one in the overall picture of the campaign, they can take confidence from the fact that their side doesn't seem wholly reliant on either his goals or leadership for big matches.
In that West Ham game, Emile Smith Rowe scored once again and Bukayo Saka got an assist, with the follow-up 4-1 win over Leeds further showing the impressive strength in depth of this young team. If they continue going strong this season they'll not only reward Arteta's confidence but give further glimpses of potentially even greater rewards in the future.
Norwich fighting for survival
While Norwich City find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table, they're not yet cut adrift, being only three points behind Watford in 17th. As we pass the mid-way point of this season, though, every match is going to be like a cup final for them to avoid an immediate return to the Championship and another stamp on their reputation for being a 'yo-yo' club.
This alone makes the fixture a difficult one for Arsenal. Teemu Pukki is still a dangerous striker to face up against and the fans at Carrow Road will be right behind their team.
A slight shadow of uncertainty hangs above this game of course, as with all games currently scheduled for Boxing Day, with the new Omicron Covid variant continuing to spread. Numerous games have been postponed in recent weeks, though the Gunners' matches have so far avoided the worst of it. Here's hoping that can continue for the trip to Norwich.