Saturday’s only Premier League game saw Arsene Wenger and Arsenal trying to tighten their grip on third place against Paul Lambert’s Norwich City. It was something special.
First of all, the teams at the Emirates. Norwich make five changes but the Gunners keep the same side that drew with Stoke City.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Song, Gervinho, Rosicky, Benayoun, van Persie
Subs: Fabianski, Park, Andre Santos, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Djourou, Chamakh, Coquelin
Norwich: Ruddy, Naughton, Ryan Bennett, Martin, Lappin, Johnson, Howson, Elliott Bennett, Hoolahan, Jackson, Holt
Subs: Steer, Morison, Surman, Pilkington, Fox, Wilbraham, Ward
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
67 seconds into the match and Arsenal go and score the first goal of the game. Kieran Gibbs finds Yossi Benayoun and the former Liverpool man shapes to cross the ball, dummies, and fires a sublime curler past John Ruddy.
Norwich have now conceded in every away game this season.
Gibbs to the rescue for Arsenal, as he gets in the way of a Grant Holt shot from Simeon Jackson’s cross. Nearly 1-1. Blistering start to this one…
To be fair to them, Norwich have been the better side since that Arsenal goal. Wojciech Szczesny is forced into action to save from Holt on his 100th appearance in English football.
It comes as no surprise that it’s now Arsenal 1-1 Norwich City. The ball is played in from the right to Wes Hoolahan, with the Dubliner’s weak shot somehow squirming under Szczesny’s body and into the net.
That was rotten goalkeeping.
Incidentally, Robin van Persie has touched the ball once since the start of the game.
No sooner is that written than he sends an effort high and wide. It’s two months since the Dutchman has scored at the Emirates.
Jackson sets Holt in again and the striker draws a brilliant save from Szczesny – it was offside though.
It would be nice if Norwich would stopped playing so well, if only to get a breaking from typing out Szczesny for a few minutes.
Unbelievable! Norwich have taken the lead and Grant Holt is the scorer. Song and Ramsey fail to track back and Jackson has all the time in the world before playing in Holt, whose shot takes a massive deflection off Gibbs and loops over the head of Szc… the Arsenal goalkeeper.
The game is not yet half an hour old.
It was actually Hoolahan that found Holt for the goal.
Meanwhile, Bacary Sagna goes down, rolls around a bit, then stays down. He’s being treated. Could be serious.
Sagna has been taken off and replaced by Francis Coquelin, who made his debut in the 8-2 defeat to Manchester United. He is immediately caught by Hoolahan, who has been impressive so far.
Here is that Szczesny blooper. He won’t like this…
End to end to end… van Persie’s free-kick is headed out by Ryan Bennett and the ball flies up the field. Hoolahan is tackled by Coquelin in the box, no penalty, before the Gunners attack again. It comes to nothing as Gibbs loses the ball with Song screaming for a pass.
Arsenal look very ordinary, and Norwich are denied a clear penalty as Koscielny clearly drags Russell Martin down. How was that not a penalty? Lambert has a go at the touchline official Lee Probert. Mental game, all of a sudden.
Thomas Vermaelen is booked for a cynical challenge on Jackson, and proceeds to go mad at the decision. Arsenal are rattled as half-time approaches, with Koscielny’s last-ditch challenge on Holt preventing the visitors from going 3-1 ahead.
Half-Time: Arsenal 1-2 Norwich.
We’re back – Arsenal need to cop themselves on if they want to make sure of Champions League football next season, especially with Newcastle and Tottenham back in top form.
Norwich start off on the front foot, with Jackson again tormenting the home defence. Arsenal need something new. Ramsey, Gervinho and van Persie have all had bad days. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can’t be far away.
Norwich, once again, start an attack from a defensive start. Jackson blusters through the Arsenal back-line like it isn’t there and his shot is saved by Szczesny.
Wenger’s side has been woeful, we’re expecting flying tea-cups at half-time.
After Benayoun misses a header, Norwich have two great chances. First, a cross by Naughton is missed by the Canaries attack, before Holt’s flicks on for Hoolahan to shoot JUST wide.
Then (catches breath)…
Van Persie’s shot is saved by Ruddy before the ball falls to Gervinho, whose cross is missed badly by the woeful Ramsey.
Ramsey has been taken off, replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain. Good move. The Welshman was proving a liability.
Chance! You’d have put money on van Persie there, as he is played in by Benayoun, but he shoots over the bar.
Another chance! It just won’t happen for Arsenal, with Ryan Bennett going on to block a Vermaelen shot from Gervinho’s cross.
Steve Morison comes on for the impressive Jackson, while Marouane Chamakh replaces Benayoun. The Moroccan was impressive against Stoke last week (but is generally muck).
We have a goal! It’s Arsenal 2-2 Norwich and it’s a Robin van Persie volley from an Alex Song lofted cross/pass – where have we seen that before? It came in the second wave of an Arsenal attack, after Chamakh almost scored with his first touch.
Anthony Pilkington is coming on for Wes Hoolahan.
30 Premier League goals for the season for Robin van Persie!
It’s Arsenal 3-2 Norwich and the Dutchman has turned the game on its head, preying on a deflected through-ball from Tomas Rosicky. Pilkington won’t be happy as he deflected the ball into the path of the Arsenal skipper.
A good opportunity for Bradley Johnson who arrives on the Pilkington’s pull-back. He balloons it. Terrible.
Norwich are not lying down and Morison’s brilliant cross is only narrowly missed by Aaron Wilbraham.
Jonny Howson lofted pass is exquisite as Morison springs the offside trap and arrows the ball past Szczesny. What a great game. The former Millwall man has now scored in both of his games against Arsenal this season.
Arsenal 3-3 Norwich
Chance for Arsenal! Van Persie finds himself one-on-one with Ruddy but shoots straight at the Norwich ‘keeper when it looks easier to score. Chamakh’s follow-up header goes predictably wide.
Referee Anthony Taylor turns down another definite penalty, as Naughton fouls the lurking van Persie. Shocking decision. Inexperienced referee. Gervinho was offside but Sian Massey never lifted her flag.
Song almost wins the game with a deft flick from Chamakh’s cross – Ruddy saves. There is something happening all the time. We’re in injury time but still expect more drama.
Arsenal are battering the Norwich goal with efforts, with Ruddy saving from Gibbs and the referee finally blowing it up.
It has finished Arsenal 3-3 Norwich.
An amazing game with what seemed like thousands of chances. An irate Wenger barely shakes the hand of Paul Lambert before storming down the tunnel. He won’t be happy at the referee, that much is guaranteed.
Thanks for following, we’ll be back later for some match at Wembley. The Zenith Data Systems Cup or something.