Norwich City 1, Arsenal 2
15:24 19 November 2011
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A goal in each half by in-form Arsenal striker Robin van Persie was enough to condemn Norwich City to their second Premier League home defeat of the season.
The Canaries stunned the Gunners by taking a 16th-minute lead through Steve Morison, after he dispossessed the dithering Per Mertesacker.
But Dutch international Van Persie levelled 11 minutes later, tucking home a cross from Theo Walcott.
The decisive goal came after 59 minutes when defender Russell Martin made one crucial error in an otherwise excellent display, getting caught in possession on halfway, enabling Alex Song to set up Van Persie for his second of the afternoon – and his 12th Premier League goal of the season.
City made three changes in the second half but hard though they worked, they seldom seriously troubled Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and the Gunners looked more likely to extend their lead.
The game was watched by an all-seater record crowd for the Canaries of 26,801, the biggest home gate since 1984.
City boss Paul Lambert made two changes to the team beaten 3-2 at Aston Villa a fortnight earlier. Midfield pair David Fox and Andrew Crofts were back in the starting eleven at the expense of winger Elliott Bennett and striker Grant Holt, who were relegated to the substitutes’ bench.
There was another change on the bench where full-back Adam Drury replaced on-loan defender Ritchie de Laet.
Arsenal made one change after the 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion with Germany international Mertesacker recalled for the injured Carl Jenkinson, sidelined by a back problem. It meant a switch to right-back for Laurent Koscielny, with Mertesacker partnering Thomas Vermaelen in the centre of defence.
In the opening minute, Arsenal pushed forward through Walcott on the right and his low cross was turned past the post by Van Persie, without connecting cleanly.
They kept up the pressure and Tierney was forced to concede a corner when he blocked a shot by Walcott after Song had crossed from the left. Van Persie took the kick but Koscielny headed wide under pressure from Russell Martin.
Pilkington found Morison as City attacked down the left but as he tried to cut inside the striker was dispossessed by Koscielny.
In the sixth minute, Van Persie went closer with a left-foot shot that fizzed past the post after Santos found him in space.
A brilliant goalline clearance by Russell Martin denied Arsenal the lead in the 11th minute when they broke quickly on the counter-attack. Gervinho found Walcott, who curled in a left-foot shot that beat Ruddy but was acrobatically hooked off the line and out for a corner as Martin, facing his own goal, stretched out his right leg.
The value of that clearance was magnified in the 16th minute when Morison gave City the lead, scoring for the third game in a row.
It was a goal out of nothing down to Morison’s battling. Tierney knocked a long ball forward and Mertesacker should have had no problem dealing with it but he dithered as Morison harried the ball away from him and scored with a shot that brushed Szczesny’s hand the way in, to send Carrow Road delirious.
Arsenal could have levelled inside a minute when Arteta’s shot was blocked and Van Persie, from six yards out, stabbed the rebound wide.
Russell Martin’s knack of being in the right place at the right time served City well with two more vital clearances, first from a Van Persie header, then when Ruddy parried a shot from Gervinho, sent clear by Van Persie, and Martin hooked the loose ball clear as it headed goalwards.
The equaliser came after 27 minutes, however, through Van Persie, his 12th Premier League goal of the season.
Walcott got much the better of Tierney and crossed low into the six-yard box where Gervinho attempted to score with a fancy backheel but failed to connect, leaving Van Persie to tuck the ball away from close range.
Gervinho then wriggled deep into Norwich territory, only for his shot to be deflected out for a corner by Barnett, but Arteta’s kick was cleanly caught by Ruddy.
On the stroke of half-time, City failed to make the best of a decent break as Tierney sent Morison away on the left but he curled a tame cross straight into Szczesny’s arms.
• Half-time: Norwich City 1, Arsenal 1
There was a change at the interval as Lambert replaced Fox with Bennett, Crofts switching to a more central role after playing on the right in the first half.
Bennett supplied the first cross of the half into the danger zone after good work by Morison but it found no takers in the Arsenal area.
Arsenal could have gone ahead five minutes after the break when Vermaelen made good ground on the left but Gervinho headed straight at Ruddy.
Pilkington was given his first dead-ball opportunity a minute later when Hoolahan was fouled by Vermaelen, curling his shot over the wall but within comfortable reach of Szczesny.
A splendid crossfield ball from Vermaelen sent Walcott racing away on the right and his cross to the near post was met with a volley by Ramsey, but into the side netting.
Ruddy kept City on terms with a fine save after 55 minutes when Van Persie slipped a pass through to Gervinho, the offside flag stayed down and the ’keeper did superbly to smother his shot before Johnson hacked the ball clear.
But after 59 minutes, it was 2-1 to the Gunners as Van Persie struck again, sadly after an error by Russell Martin. The City defender was caught in possession as he dribbled to the halfway line and Song was able to put Van Persie clear, where he beat Ruddy with a delicate finish.
City could have levelled on 65 minutes when Bennett crossed from the right but Pilkington, coming in at the near post, flicked his shot across goal when he might have done better.
Bennett was booked for bringing down Gervinho as Arsenal counter-attacked, and as they pressed again, Walcott squeezed in a low shot that Ruddy was right behind.
Midway through the half, while the Gunners waited to take a free-kick, Holt was sent on for Hoolahan.
Morison had an appeal for hand-ball rejected as he tried to cross from the right, then a Pilkington free-kick was swung into the danger area where Vermaelen headed clear,
Barnett did well to deny Ramsey a shot as the Gunners looked for a third and, as City rallied, Pilkington charged down a clearance but Holt was penalised for fouling Mertesacker.
Crofts had a shot charged down and in a swift counter-attack, Ruddy saved twice, first parrying a shot from Arteta, then gathering another from Gervinho.
Arsenal replaced Gervinho with Benayoun with 12 minutes to go.
Tierney was booked for a foul on Walcott with nine minutes left, and City made their final change when Jackson was sent on in place of Pilkington.
Bennett, already booked, was lectured by referee Dowd for a foul on Koscielny but escaped a second yellow.
Holt was booked, however, with four minutes left as he was adjudged to have dived under challenge from Mertesacker, while the home crowd appealed optimistically for a penalty.
A powerful drive by Walcott whizzed past the angle of post and bar as the Gunners tried to make the game safe.
Jackson went for the direct approach, firing a 25-yard shot over the top as the game entered the final minute.
Holt did earn a free-kick by backing into Santos and while Johnson waited to take it, Arsenal replaced Walcott with Djourou. Johnson floated the kick towards the far post but Szczesny made a clean catch.
• Result: Norwich City 1, Arsenal 2
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Naughton, Barnett, Russell Martin, Tierney; Crofts, Fox (Bennett, 45), Bradley Johnson; Pilkington (Jackson, 82), Hoolahan (Holt, 68); Morison. Subs (not used): Rudd, Drury, Surman, Wilbraham.
• Arsenal: Szczesny; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos; Song; Walcott (Djourou, 90), Arteta, Ramsey, Gervinho (Benayoun, 78); Van Persie. Subs (not used): Fabianski, Arshavin, Rosicky, Chamakh, Coquelin.
• Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
• Attendance: 26,801
• Goals: City: Morison (16). Arsenal: Van Persie (27, 59)
• Bookings: City: Bennett (66), Tierney (81), Holt (86).
Podcast - Norwich City 1, Arsenal 2
Norwich City 1, Arsenal 2
Bradley Johnson challenges Robin Van Persie for the ball. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison robs Arsenal's Per Mertesacker on the edge of the area and goes on to open the scoring. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Leon Barnett blocks a shot from Arsenal's Robin Van Persie. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott celebrate Arsenal's winner in unusual style. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison celebrates his fourth goal of the season. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels the frustration during the first half. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Arsenal's Robin Van Persie and Leon Barnett in action. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Robin Van Persie and Russell Martin in action. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison gets the better of Arsenal's Per Mertesacker on the edge of the area before scoring. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison is mobbed by his team mates after giving Norwich City the lead. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Robin Van Persie scores Arsenal's winner. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger during the game at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Leon Barnett blocks a shot by Arsenal's Mikel Arteta. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Arsenal's Per Mertesacker gifts the ball to Steve Morison to open the scoring. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Theo Walcott has a shot on goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison wheels away in celebration after giving Norwich City the lead against Arsenal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
John Ruddy saves a shot form Arsenal's Mikel Arteta. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Per Mertesacker goes down spectacularly after a challenge from Grant Holt. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison fires home for Norwich City. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Norwich City players congratulate Steve Morison after the striker gave Norwich City the lead against Arsenal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
John Ruddy just fails to get his head to Robin van Persie's winner. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Simeon Jackson is surrounded by Arsenal's Andre Santos, Yossi Benayoun and Alex Song. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
David Fox tackles Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Grant Holt goes over in the penalty area but gets a yellow card from referee Phil Dowd. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison watches his shot hit the back of the net. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
A record all-seater attendance watched the Premier League match at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
John Ruddy collects the ball safely. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison celebrates his opener. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Robin Van Persie and Russell Martin in action. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
The Norwich City team in their pre-match huddle. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Kyle Naughton and Arsenal's Theo Walcott in action. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Paul Lambert and Ian Culverhouse are angered by referee Phil Dowd's decisions. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Arsenal's Robin Van Persie celebrates his equaliser. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
Steve Morison celebrates hitting the net for the third game in a row. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images