Horror show at Arsenal leaves City in bad shape ahead of decisive week
- Credit: PA
Tim Krul has been Norwich City’s outstanding performer this season but the Dutchman’s error left his team sinking in quicksand at Arsenal this evening.
Tim Krul has been Norwich City’s outstanding performer this season but the Dutchman’s error left his team sinking in quicksand at Arsenal last night.
Ben Godfrey had clipped the post for City in a competitive first half, only for Krul’s error to allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to claim the lead easily in the 31st minute, doubled just six minutes later after some slack marking from the visitors.
A triple substitution at half-time from the Canaries had threatened to keep the game interesting only for one of them, Josip Drmic, to see a bizarre back-pass ruthlessly punished by Aubameyang before substitute Cedric Soares completed a dominant victory.
The last time Norwich won at Arsenal was all the way back in August 1992, at Highbury on the opening day of the Premier League era. They had come close during the early stages of the Daniel Farke era however, during an extra-time defeat in front of 9,000 travelling Norwich fans.
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This time it was in front of just 300 people at the 60,000 capacity Emirates Stadium though, as the Premier League’s televised return behind closed doors continued, with the Canaries playing their first away game in almost four months.
City made just one change to their starting XI, as expected with Timm Klose serving a one-match ban, as Tom Trybull came into midfield to allow Alex Tettey to drop into defence due to the defensive injury problems limiting Farke’s options.
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Max Aarons, Lukas Rupp and Todd Cantwell all shook off knocks to start but with Mo Leitner coming off the bench due to a hernia issue it was under-23 squad right-back Jordan Thomas on the bench for the first team for the first time.
Four players dropped out of the Arsenal XI following a 2-1 win at Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, youngsters Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and £72million club record signing Nicolas Pepe all starting among the substitutes.
Coming in for Mikel Arteta’s team was star forward and skipper Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Reiss Nelson and Real Madrid loanee Dani Celballos, who had scored the late winner at Bramall Lane three days earlier.
Tettey was needed to scramble away some dangers twice early on and Krul denied Aubameyang in the 10th minute, which City countered from only to see Rupp get caught in between two minds with Cantwell on the charge, missing the chance to shoot.
Godfrey smashed a shot from over 25 yards which clipped the outside of the post in the 29th minute but Arsenal were gaining control, with their 3-4-3 formation appearing to have the upper hand.
The Europa League chasers were given a big helping hand however in the 31st minute, when Krul tried to dummy his kick and turn away from the chasing Aubameyang unnecessarily, allowing the former Borussia Dortmund man to rob him and roll into an empty net.
Five minutes later and it was game over as slack marking from Emi Buendia out wide allowed Aubameyang to flick a cross in from the left, with Trybull slow to react as Granit Xhaka got goal-side of him and thrashed a low effort past Krul for 2-0.
Buendia was clipped by Xhaka just before the break and Kenny McLean curled the free-kick dangerously towards the top-right corner, but Emiliano Martinez was equal to the effort to tip the shot around his post.
The scoreline prompted an immediate response from a furious looking Farke, with Buendia, Trybull and Teemu Pukki replaced by Drmic, Onel Hernandez and Adam Idah in a switch to a 3-4-1-2 formation.
Irish youngster Idah tested Martinez with a low drive almost immediately, Hernandez hit a rising drive over and Todd Cantwell had a penalty appeal waved away as the fresh legs provided energy.
Drmic also saw a shot well charged down but then the striker had a horror moment to match Krul’s as he played an awful pass into his own box, where Aubameyang was waiting to slot home his 19th Premier League goal of the season.
Southampton loanee Soares then completed a miserable night for the bottom side, firing home from 25 yards after a corner was deflected to him, as relegation edged ever closer for City.
Anything at Arsenal would have been a bonus but a third successive league loss since the restart leaves City knowing they have one last chance to spark a late surge in a defining week against survival rivals Brighton, Watford and West Ham.
ARSENAL (3-4-3): Martinez; Mustafi (Holding 46), Luiz, Kolasinac; Bellerin (Cedric 76), Xhaka, Ceballos, Tierney; Nelson (Willock 58), Lacazette (Nketiah 76), Aubameyang (C - Pepe 82). Unused subs: Macey (GK), Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Saka.
Goals: Aubameyang (33, 67), Xhaka (37), Soares (81)
NORWICH: (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Tettey (C), Godfrey; Lewis; Buendia (Hernandez 46), Rupp (Vrancic 75), Trybull (Drmic 46), McLean, Cantwell (Stiepermann 75); Pukki (Idah 46). Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Thomas, Duda, Martin
Booked: McLean (foul on Ceballos, 27), Vrancic (foul on Soares, 86), Stiepermann (foul on Willock, 90+2)
REFEREE: Peter Bankes
VAR: Mike Dean