Arsenal 3-1 Norwich | Casual Gunners get lucky

Well, that was close. A supposedly ‘easy’ match at home to struggling Norwich was treated as such by Arsenal yesterday and they almost squandered the chance of applying real pressure to Chelsea and Spurs. Thankfully the introduction of Walcott, Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain injected some much overdue pace and tempo to our game and we ground out the win in an incredible last ten minutes.

But what preceded it was so frustrating. Following on from last week’s impressive victory at West Brom, the players obviously didn’t see the need to work that hard again against little Norwich. They didn’t bother to press their opponents high up the pitch and they knocked the ball around far too slowly, allowing Norwich to keep their very defensive shape with some ease. It was as if they thought a minimum amount of effort would suffice and as a result passes were misplaced, attacks broke down too often and Norwich weren’t stretched enough.

To compound a wretched first hour, Arsenal then lost concentration at a set piece and allowed Turner an unchallenged header for the opening goal.

To be fair to Wenger, he reacted quickly by sending on Walcott and Podolski for the woeful Gervinho and rusty Wilshere. The manager’s continued faith in Gervinho when he has the likes of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain to call on is baffling. Yes, once in a while he’ll produce as he did last weekend, but for the most part he’ll be the weak link. His clumsy touch as he knocked Cazorla’s first half through ball too far past the outrushing keeper is a perfect example and there were other moments of poor control and bad decisions too.

A lovely goal from the best finisher at the club

A lovely goal from the best finisher at the club

We hardly battered Norwich from that point on but the improvement was there. Podolski hit the bar (as Giroud did with our only real chance of the first half) but in truth it looked like Norwich would hang on. Then came the game’s controversial moment on 85 minutes when Giroud clearly had his shirt pulled in the box as a loose ball bounced around following a corner and Arteta tucked home the equaliser.

The main beef of Chris Hughton and the inept pundits on Match of the Day was that the linesman gave the decision from a long way away. Erm, so what? He saw the shirt pull, so what does it matter if he was stood one yard away or 50 yards away? Even though Giroud also had a little tug on Kamara’s shirt, the first offence was clearly committed by Kamara and so it’s a definite penalty.

Where Norwich do have a case is that the corner should never have been given in the first place as it looked like it went out of play off Ramsey, so we got lucky there.

After that we approached the match with the same vigour we should’ve shown at 3pm. The Ox burst into the box and pulled a great ball back for a determined Giroud to use his strength well and bundle home the second goal. Just moments after we’d seemingly won the game though, Fabianski did well to kick away a shot as somehow a Norwich player was allowed a clear sight of goal from 12 yards. Talk about almost throwing it away!

In injury time Podolski lashed in a well taken third (although Walcott was offside in the build up) as if to emphasise just what we can do to teams when we are in the mood. It’s a shame we weren’t in the mood for the first hour — why was that? Complacency? I think so. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time this season (Blackburn, Bradford, Norwich away etc) and we must guard against that because there’s no such thing as an easy run-in as today showed.

In fact we now approach a tricky trio of fixtures over the next two weeks. Everton visit the Emirates next and I’m sure the scousers will enjoy hitting the London bars before the big match. Then it’s a trip to Fulham before we play Man Utd at home and if we don’t improve at the back we will definitely ship more soft goals to these sides. Credit to the lads for showing the character to grab such a late win, but that performance would not have sufficed against any of our upcoming opponents. Improvement is needed and fast.

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Comments
  1. Rahul

    i didn’t think Gervinho played badly in fact he had a great chance at 0-0 when he took it past the keeper but, failed to hit the target in which Giroud should have been following up on.
    The corner may not have been Arsenal’s but the penalty definitely was.
    We should be applauding the official’s work, but instead the moron pundits about claim it wasn’t a penalty.
    Norwich’s free-kick which led to their opener was also never a foul but, no pundits mentioned that either.
    somehow they make us believe Arsenal got lucky. when we clearly had the better possession and chances whilst Norwich tried to settle for a draw.

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  2. chris

    four more wins will tie up third, I think
    three should/could get fourth

    Everton’s a big game

    But the good thing about a team that can score in bunches and can sometimes grind out wins when they aren’t playing badly is the run-in is full of winnable games

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  3. J

    Giroud certainly used his strength … to wrench Bassong’s shirt almost off his back.

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  4. Shanzuman

    Your match report and comments just about sum up last Saturday’s game and would add that our final ball lacks accuracy, hapazardly executed and ending with us giving the ball away easily and far too many times thus putting pressure on our otherwise dodgy defence. This stems from not having the skilled squad that Arsene Wenger should have expended the money some years ago to build a stronger team to challenge for trophies. Instead we have a mediocre inexperienced side trying to qualify for Europe at the last moment of the season. Somehow a miracle always saves AW and I believe we will do it yet again but if he does not spend the money to build a decent squad to challenge MU, Ch, MC and now Spurs (who by the way will also seek to strengthen next season!) than I fear we will be in the same position as this year and all the trophyless 9 seasons before!!

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