Canaraies gunning for champs

NORWICH City will end Arsenal's incredible unbeaten run on Saturday. Logic, statistics, and Thierry Henry would suggest such a notion is utter nonsense, apart from a gut feeling, and the most tenuous of historic links.

By Derek Davis

NORWICH City will end Arsenal's incredible unbeaten run on Saturday. Logic, statistics, and Thierry Henry would suggest such a notion is utter nonsense, apart from a gut feeling, and the most tenuous of historic links.

In the first week of the inaugural Premier League in 1992, Arsenal were leading newly-promoted Norwich by 2-0 at half-time before two goals from Mark Robins and one each from David Phillips and Ipswich restaurant owner Ruel Fox, gave the Canaries an improbable victory.

The Invincibles' run is bound to end at some point and, perhaps now they have achieved the record, their concentration may slip. The Gunners may get a little complacent against a side who still have little in the way of quality but are determined to make up for it with hard work and good organisation.

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The way City have started their season, two points from three games, suggests they could well make the prediction of being in the Premiership for three seasons correct - autumn, winter and spring!

Arsenal's remarkable achievement of going 43 games without defeat, so far, beat that of Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest, who had their run ended at Anfield with a 2-0 loss as the Merseysiders went on to take the league title from them.

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Arsene Wenger's champions started this current run with a 6-1 win over Southampton in May 2003 and then went on to stay unbeaten all last season.

JULIO Arca will miss Sunderland's Championship game on Saturday after being stung on the chest by a jellyfish while swimming in the North Sea.

The Argentinian apparently encountered a Japanese-Man-of-War while cooling down after a training session on Seaburn beach and suffered an allergic reaction, needing hospital treatment.

The Mackems defender is likely to suffer from a rash for about a month while manager Mick McCarthy will have a headache trying to replace him.

THE situation at Newcastle United regarding Sir Bobby Robson gets sadder by the day.

As if they didn't have enough problems, they go and throw away a two-goal lead to relegation-favourites Norwich and then goalscorer Craig Bellamy threatens to up-sticks if they buy Wayne Rooney.

Robson again appeared to be wrong-footed when the Rooney story broke and it is totally apparent that he is being kept out of the loop by his chairman.

There are elements conspiring against him in the St James' Park corridors and if results don't improve in the next month he will be clearing his desk long before the next bout of transfer talk starts.

Bellamy may be speaking with a certain amount of self-preservation in mind, but he is right when he claims the Magpies would be better off getting in a couple of decent defenders rather than emptying the coffers on another striker.

Or, perhaps Alan Shearer has identified his successor on the pitch while he manouvres himself into succeeding Robson.

MR Francis, an 80-year-old Chatter reader from Southwold, has chastised me for suggesting no other Academy has produced as many young England players as Ipswich Town.

“Academy. What Academy?” he asks. 'They will never even come close to the famous Hammers,” he wrote, and then goes on to mention the likes of Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Glen Johnson and Stephen Bywater, among others.

Fair enough, but I did say I doubted many Academies could boast such numbers so I will amend that to...I doubt many Academies outside the Premiership could boast as many as Ipswich Town and West Ham. I await correspondence from slighted Brighton, Wigan and Sunderland fans.

DO the FA know something we don't? In the England Under-21 squad list published on their official website they have Peter Whittingham listed as an Ipswich Town player.

The Aston Villa defensive midfielder, who will be 20 in a fortnight, has won two Under-21 caps so far.

BOSTON manager Steve Evans is hoping to complete the signing of Norwich striker Zema Abbey on a one-month loan deal before the weekend clash with Cheltenham.

Abbey, brother of Pilgrims goalkeeper Nathan, was expected at York Street at the start of the season but the move hit the buffers when he suffered a groin injury.

BRIGHTON boss Mark McGhee has been boosted by news that star striker Leon Knight's injury is not as bad as first feared.

Knight limped out of the Carling Cup defeat to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night with a badly-bruised shin.

But club doctors have confirmed he is unlikely to miss any football and should be fit to play against Preston this weekend.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST manager Joe Kinnear has approached Tottenham with an offer for young midfielder Johnnie Jackson.

The Forest boss is keen to bring in the 22-year-old, either on loan or permanently, and expects an answer within the next 24 hours.

The arrival of Michael Carrick at White Hart Lane has pushed Jackson further down the pecking order and Kinnear remains optimistic about his chances.

Meanwhile, Spurs forward Mark Yeates has joined Swindon on a short-term loan basis, with a view to completing a more permanent deal. The length of Yeates' stay is yet to be confirmed.

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