Johnson happy with 'Mr Nasty' tag

Bradley Johnson says he loves a good challenge. Photo: PA

Midfielder Bradley Johnson is happy to live up to his "Mr Nasty" tag if it helps keep Norwich in the Premier League.

Johnson, 25, returns to boyhood club Arsenal tomorrow as Chris Hughton's squad look for a positive result to push them a step closer top-flight survival.

During last season's 3-3 draw at Emirates Stadium, Johnson drew criticism for a challenge on Gunners full-back Bacary Sagna, which left the defender with a broken leg and out of Euro 2012.

When Paul Lambert signed Johnson from Leeds in July 2011, he admitted the combative midfielder had "a little bit of a nasty streak in him".

Johnson - whose clash with QPR's Joey Barton last January saw his opponent sent off for an alleged headbutt - maintains he is not a malicious player, but will not shy away from the heat of battle.

"I can't talk for any other player but yes, I like a challenge. I like a competitive game," said Johnson.

"Obviously Paul Lambert mentioned when he signed me that I have a bit of a nasty streak in me, but I work hard and I want to win, so that means every tackle I go into I want to win the ball.

"People might think it's malicious, but it's not. I want to win, so it should come out as that."

Johnson added: "Obviously I don't set out to hurt people when I go and play, but tackling is part of my game and if I caught him (Sagna) and it is a recurrence of his broken leg, then obviously I am sorry about that.

"I didn't go out maliciously to hurt anyone. I don't do that.

"I am just going to concentrate on the game on Saturday and help Norwich get three points."

Johnson was on the books at Arsenal as a youngster, but was released when he was 15 and went on to play non-league football before signing with Northampton.

The midfielder netted a memorable long-range strike for Leeds in the 3-1 FA Cup third-round replay defeat by the Gunners at Elland Road in January 2011, and just for one day would like to put a dent in Arsenal's charge towards the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

"I have grown up an Arsenal fan. My whole family are Arsenal fans and have been on the phone this week saying 'make sure you get me a ticket'," he said.

"To go back there and see the old coaches and talk to them, and be so proud of what I have done, and to walk out playing against them at the Emirates is such a great feeling for myself.

"But hopefully we can get the win because I am not going to be an Arsenal fan on Saturday."

Norwich beat Arsenal 1-0 at Carrow Road earlier this season, which was the start of a 10-match unbeaten run from Hughton's men.

However, only one win in 2013 has left the Canaries needing probably another six points to secure another crack at the top flight.

Johnson sees no reason why at least one of those could not come tomorrow.

"We had a game plan at our place to get in their faces and upset them, and I think we can do it again on Saturday," he said.

Hughton masterminded a 1-0 victory at Arsenal when in charge of Newcastle in November 2010, secured via a goal from Andy Carroll.

He said: "We will need that type of performance.

"I don't see anybody going to the Emirates with the form Arsenal are in and getting anything without having to play well.

"We will, though, have to be a threat ourselves, because you cannot defend for 90 minutes there, they are too good for that."