Arsenal 3-3 Norwich City



Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey (above middle) takes on Norwich's Bradley Johnson as the Gunners looked to settle third place in the table


By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from the Emirates Stadium

Steve Morison's late equaliser earned Norwich a 3-3 draw that left a major dent in Arsenal's Champions League hopes in a six-goal thriller.

Yossi Benayoun curled in a shot with barely a minute gone but Wojciech Szczesny somehow allowed Wes Hoolahan's tame effort to beat him. Grant Holt's deflected shot put Norwich ahead but Robin van Persie levelled with a volley and completed the comeback with a well-hit second. But Morison's cross-shot pulled the Canaries level in a thrilling finish.

The result extends Arsenal's winless run to four games, and seriously damages their chances of qualifying for the Champions League. Arsene Wenger's fate is no longer in his own hands - the Gunners, who are two points clear in third place, can be overhauled on Sunday when north London rivals Tottenham travel to Aston Villa and Newcastle host Manchester City.  

The Gunners were unchanged from their Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium seven days ago while the Canaries made five changes from their disappointing 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool last weekend with Wes Hoolahan, Simon Lappin, Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson and Russell Martin recalled with Adam Drury ruled out through injury.

After last week's 1-1 draw at Stoke, Wenger- in charge of his 900th Arsenal match- admitted that his team were over-reliant on Van Persie's goals, and this performance did little to disprove that view. Van Persie, who only has one year remaining on his contract, thought he had once again come to his side's rescue when he extended his remarkable goal tally to 37 for the season, but Norwich substitute Morison had other ideas. Wenger could point to referee Anthony Taylor's failure to award a penalty for Kyle Naughton's blatant push on Van Persie in stoppage time but Norwich's positive approach and impressive late defending certainly merited a point.


Norwich City have not won away to Arsenal in the Premier League since its very first weekend back in August 1992.

The Arsenal manager had insisted that there should be no need for nerves from his players, but even if there was any anxiety it should have been disappeared when Benayoun swept in. Tomas Rosicky seized on a loose clearance to pick out the Israeli, who used an overlapping run from Kieran Gibbs to dummy and create the space to bend a shot into the far corner.

Despite their recent slump, Norwich City responded well and they pulled level when Naughton pulled back and Szczesny made a mess of Hoolahan's first-time shot. The visitors pulled ahead just before the half-hour, when Hoolahan threaded through for Holt to hit a shot that looped up off Gibbs and over Szczesny.

After losing Bacary Sagna to what appeared to be an ankle problem, things could have got even worse for the hosts. Benayoun got away with kicking out at Ryan Bennett and Norwich had valid penalty appeals for Francis Coquelin's sliding tackle on Hoolahan and Laurent Koscielny's tug on Russell Martin. Arsenal- who had won the previous four meetings between the sides including November's reverse fixture at Carrow Road with a 2-1 victory thanks to another Van Persie double- were rattled and never looked like taking a firm grip on the game.

Simeon Jackson should have added a third after the break when he tore away from Thomas Vermaelen only to fail to trouble Szczesny. Rosicky's free-kick picked out Benayoun but the on-loan Chelsea midfielder headed straight at John Ruddy. It was by no means one-way traffic, though, and Hoolahan clipped a volley wide from a neat Holt flick at the other end.


Arsenal are now winless in four league games having won nine of the previous ten matches before this run.

Captain Van Persie had barely been involved but the Dutchman made no mistake after 71 minutes when he volleyed in from Alex Song's fine pass. The Dutch international had a stabbed effort held by Ruddy but put Arsenal in front when his shot from just inside the area had enough power to beat Ruddy.

But Welshman Morison pulled the visitors level once again when he raced on to a through ball and drove a shot across Szczesny for his first goal since January.

Still the chances came thick and fast with visitors goalkeeper John Ruddy saved from Van Persie, who was then denied a late penalty when he went down under a barge from Kyle Naughton before the Norwich goalkeeper pulled off a fine block to deny Alex Song.

And Ruddy was outstanding once again as he somehow got a hand to a header from Gibbs, giving Norwich a well-deserved point which could have far-reaching consequences.


Adam Higgins
The Football Site- Chief Football Editor

"It wasn't the result everyone was expecting or the scoreline. Arsenal were tepid in the first half and didn't build on the goal scored after two minutes. Their defending was poor with even the reliable Szczesny making a mistake. It was surprising to see Norwich come back in the manner they did and turn it around to lead the game. They deserved the point and weren't playing like a side with little to  play for. Robin Van Persie dugged them out of the hole again with two goals but they weren't enough to get the win due to poor concentration levels towards the end- again they were reliant on the goals from the captain. Norwich turned in a good display which was important to show to fans that their season wasn't fading away after a poor string of results in recent weeks."



Saturday 5th May 2012

Barclays Premier League

Emirates Stadium


Arsenal 3-3 Norwich City                                      KO 12:45pm               (HT 1-2)

Benayoun 2               Hoolahan 12
Van Persie 72, 80       Holt 27
                              Morison 85


Arsenal:  13 Szczesny- 7.5/10, 3 Sagna- 3.5/10 (Coquelin 33- 6/10), 5 Vermaelen- 6.5/10, 6 Koscielny- 6.5/10, 28 Gibbs- 7.5/10, 7 Rosicky- 6.5/10, 16 Ramsey- 6.5/10 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 63- 3.5/10), 17 Song- 8/10, 30 Benayoun- 7/10 (Chamakh 69- 3/10), 10 Van Persie (C)- 7/10, 27 Gervinho- 6/10.

Subs not used:  21 Fabianski, 11 Santos, 20 Djourou, 9 Park Chu-Young

Booked:      Ramsey (20), Vermaelen (45+3)


Norwich City:  1 Ruddy- 9/10, 25 Naughton- 7.5/10, 2 R Martin- 7.5/10, 33 R Bennett- 7.5/10, 19 Lappin- 7/10, 17 E Bennett- 8.5/10, 24 Howson- 7.5/10, 4 Johnson- 7/10, 14 Hoolahan- 6.5/10 (Pilkington 74- 3/10), 9 Holt (C)- 7.5/10 (Wilbraham 81- 2.5/10), 10 Jackson- 6.5/10 (Morison 69- 3.5/10).

Subs not used:  31 Steer, 22 Ward, 11 Surman, 15 Fox 

Booked:      Jackson (29), Hoolahan (60), Wilbraham (90+2)


My Man of the Match:     John Ruddy (Norwich City)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:     Gervinho (Arsenal)- Rating 6/10 



Referee: Anthony Taylor (Manchester)- 8/10
Attendance: 60,092 



Match Facts

Possession: Arsenal- 59%                   Norwich City- 41%

Shots: Arsenal- 20                     Norwich City- 12

Shots on target: Arsenal- 13                     Norwich City- 6

Shots off target: Arsenal- 7                      Norwich City- 6

Corners: Arsenal- 6                      Norwich City- 1

Fouls: Arsenal- 8                    Norwich City- 15

Offside: Arsenal- 1                     Norwich City- 5

Assists: Arsenal- Rosicky, Song                       Norwich City- Naughton, Hoolahan, Howson



Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

"Here the whole season we have got zero penalties. It is absolutely amazing, because you see other clubs who have got 10. I don't know (why the penalty was not given), we have to accept the decision of the referee whether we like it or not. It is more than frustrating because we were very poor in the first half, not switched on and ultimately that cost us dearly. Norwich were just as good today and I think deserved a point but we have opened up the race for Spurs and Newcastle now with just game left for us to play."

Click here to read the full post-match interview with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger



Norwich City manager Paul Lambert

"I've said to the players that I'm so proud of what they've given this season and this highlighted it even more. We were outstanding. I thought Spurs was as good as anything in my time here but this might surpass it. We wanted to get on the front foot and everyone was outstanding. We could have been 3-1 up when Simeon went through and should have had a penalty in the first half. They might think they should have had a penalty at the end but Gervinho was offside."

Click here for the full post-match interview with Canaries boss Paul Lambert


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