Arsenal’s late salvo sinks brave Norwich City

PUBLISHED: 18:02 18 April 2013 | UPDATED: 18:02 18 April 2013

Alex Tettey protests to referee Mike Jones about the penalty award to Arsenal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Alex Tettey protests to referee Mike Jones about the penalty award to Arsenal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

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Norwich City led Arsenal 1-0 with 85 minutes on the clock at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, but three late goals from the Gunners, aided and abetted by some questionable decisions from the match officials, meant that the Canaries ended up with no points to show for their efforts.

Another defeat, and City are now well and truly uncomfortably close to the relegation trapdoor.

City made three changes to the 11 who started against Swansea. In came Whittaker, Holt, and Tettey, at the expense of Garrido, Elliott Bennett, and Hoolahan. Arsenal had more possession in the first half and twice went close near the half hour mark. Giroud’s header hit the bar, and Gervinho broke clear only for his shot to roll right across the entire face of the goal with no player able to make contact.

The Norwich players and the travelling Canaries’ fans were happy to be level at the break, and positively ecstatic ten minutes into the second period. Kamara, playing on the right, went down under a challenge from Gibbs, and the resultant free kick from Snodgrass found the head of Turner, who had time and space to score with a powerful header. The Norwich fans exulted. The Gooners groaned and thought they were Gonners. Prof Wenger took off Wilshere and Gervinho and brought on Podolski and Walcott. Their fresh legs caused problems for the City defence but still the yellow lines remained intact. City took off Johnson and gave Fox a rare outing.

It was all action now at both ends. Bassong broke free in his own half and galloped deep into Arsenal territory before passing to the overlapping Martin, but the full back’s shot from 15 yards out went straight to the keeper. The Gunners’ substitutes were now firing on all cylinders, and Bunn did really well to tip Podolski’s volley up and onto the crossbar.

In a nerve tangling and spine chilling final five minutes for the yellow clad hordes, following an Arsenal corner which should have been a Norwich goal kick, Kamara and Giroud tangled for a 50-50 ball in the Norwich area. The ref who was 10 yards away saw nothing awry, but from 50 yards away the assistant ref flagged for a penalty. He must have had either vision like a hawk or long distance binoculars. Bunn was booked for protesting too much. He got a hand to the ball and almost saved the penalty kick, but only almost, and it seemed as though Arteta had rescued a point for lucky Arsenal in the 85th minute.

Worse was to follow three minutes later. Oxlade-Chamberlain exchanged passes with Podolski, danced down the wing and crossed for a combination of Giroud and Bassong to put the Gunners ahead. At the other end City came agonisingly close to an equaliser when the Arsenal keeper somehow used his feet to save Howson’s shot.

In the 90th minute Walcott was clearly offside, but allowed to continue and Podolski scored Arsenal’s third. Snodgrass was booked in the same minute. Six minutes of injury time were played out with no further score.

So another great game between the Gunners and Canaries. Great game but wrong result. Close that chapter quickly and move on. It is no use crying after spilt milk, and the Canaries now have to look forward not back, pick up their spirits, and make sure that we are not consumed by self-pity, but take out our frustration and anger by beating Reading at Carrow Road on Saturday. Each and every player and supporter has a part to play. The big games are coming thick and fast. The finishing line is in sight. Let’s make sure that we pass it sooner rather than later, and certainly not in the last group of three. On the Ball City!

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