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Paddy Davitt, EDP Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Norwich City’s spirited youngsters were outclassed by Arsenal’s stars in last night’s 5-0 Premier Reserve League defeat at Carrow Road.
High profile internationals Andrey Arshavin, Yossi Benayoun and Marouane Chamakh were all included in a strong Gunners’ line-up as they looked to press their claims for involvement in this weekend’s Premier League derby against Tottenham.
Arshavin scored in each half and was also brought down by Norwich keeper David Wooton for a penalty the City stopper brilliantly saved from Benik Afobe. The England youth international did notch in the second period and Benayoun slotted a late fifth to complete the rout after South Korea’s World Cup skipper Ju Young Park had opened the scoring.
The Canaries fielded a side packed with academy products and young senior professionals under the guidance of Football Operations Director Gary Karsa and goalkeeping coach Jeff Wood. Josh Dawkin was the pick for the hosts with some penetrative bursts against visitors who also included the likes of talented full-back Carl Jenkinson. The ex-Charlton defender played 45 minutes on his first outing since a back injury halted his first team progress at the Emirates earlier this season.
Park rifled Arsenal in front within six minutes after Chelsea loanee Benayoun had checked inside Theo Jones to strike against the base of a post. Arshavin dragged a left footer wide from the edge of the area before Jones reacted sharply to bail out Harry Barker when Chamakh sensed an opportunity to threaten.
Matt Ball’s ambitious lob drifted well over James Shea’s goal in Norwich’s first real sighter. The City midfielder was only denied by the quick-thinking of Gunners’ skipper Ignasi Miquel’s shortly after when Shea miscued his clearance.
Chamakh made an early injury exit when he went down clutching the back of his right leg following a challenge from Michael Clunan that earned the west Norfolk youngster a booking. The Moroccan hitman was treated on the pitch, but walked unaided to the touchline.
Wooton grasped Arshavin’s first time clip and then parried Oguzhan Ozyakup’s stinging drive before Park’s follow up deflected behind off Barker. Wooton atoned for bringing down Arshavin on 41 minutes when he sprang to his left to parry Afobe’s penalty up and over his crossbar – the keeper having been adjudged to have upended the Russian following another slick Arsenal counter.
The ex-Zenit playmaker exacted a measure of revenge when his attempted angled cross looped over Wooton and clipped the inside of his far post two minutes later. Park was then inches from his second on the restart when Arshavin and Afobe combined down the right.
Benayoun drilled at Wooton on 55 minutes as Arsenal continued to press high up the pitch. Jamar Loza’s cute drag back bamboozled Martin Angha, but his finish failed to match the initial trick.
Jones chested Benayoun’s right-footer to safety following Arshavin’s sublime back-heel to initially free Ozyakup. Reece Hall-Johnson kicked at fresh air 10 yards out after Dawkin had demonstrated City’s young charges possessed a party piece or two with a step over to evade Nico Yennaries.
Afobe increased Arsenal’s lead just before the hour when he exchanged passes with Park to round Wooton and slot from a tight angle.
Arshavin coolly rolled home a fourth after Benayoun swerved past Jones to test Wooton from close range. Dawkin glided around two Arsenal defenders but slammed an angled strike a yard wide of Shea’s far post in a rare home foray into the Gunners’ penalty area. Arshavin’s flick brushed the side netting late on with the Russian searching for his hat-trick, but it was left to another of his illustrious colleagues, Benayoun, to burst through on 87 minutes and calmly lift over Wooton.
• Norwich City Reserves: Wooton, Jones (Norman 70), Toffolo, Clunan, Barker, McKenzie, Hall-Johnson, Brindley (McGeehan 81), Loza, Ball (Josh Murphy 81), Dawkin. Subs: Jacob Murphy, Dobbs.
• Bookings: Clunan, Wooton
• Arsenal Reserves: Shea, Jenkinson (Ebecillio 45), Meade, Yennaris, Angha, Miquel, Benayoun, Ozyakup, Chamakh (Afobe 29 (Ansah 74)), Park, Arshavin. Subs: McDermott, Monteiro.
• Goals: Park (6), Arshavin (43, 65), Afobe (59), Benayoun (88)
• Referee: M Buonassisi
• Attendance: 2,808