Norwich – Arsenal Match Review
Two points lost or one gained… that is the question. We all were desperate for three points after the loss against West Brom, but I guess in the long run we will still be pleased with the one point. Reality is the team looked knackered, especially in the second half, and there was not much more to get from the Canaries. In fact, towards the end of the game it looked like we would end up losing it: only a superb one handed stop by Cech prevented wat looked like a certain (own) goal, and, luckily, Norwich did not have their shooting boots on.
I thought we played well in the first half and Ozil’s goal was as fabulously executed as Alexis’ super-quick and extremely well measured assist. We had been the better team by far, with fine combination football – from the left wing especially – and deserved to be in front. The ridiculously looking pink-socked and red-booted Ruddy kicked out the ball wildly to Sanchez, but it was Alexis and Mesut’s quick, intuitive thinking and running that undid the Norwich defence and sorry looking Norwich goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, we did not have the usual energy and killer-instinct to score a second one quickly after that, and we were punished for this before the first half was over. The rusty looking Ramsey was simply passed aside by the impressive Brady and there was no DM shield in front of the defence; Gabriel, who had come on for Koz early in the game, had not been paying attention and found himself on the wrong side of Grabban all of a sudden; and some further weak defending allowed the Norwich CF to take a few touches and pass the ball past the onrushing Cech and into the middle the goal. A bad goal to concede and all the good work of the first half was undone in just a flash.
In the second half we did okay for about 20 minutes or so, but then we started to wither very quickly: misplaced passes, one on ones were no longer won, lack of collective pressure on the ball, etc. This, for me, was epitomised by the significant drop in form of Nacho Monreal: in the first half he was faultless and a huge force going forward, but in the second half he looked jaded and his balls into the box lacked accuracy and belief. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, Sanchez had to go off after sixty minutes and Campbell came on: our collective level dropped significantly after this and it became quickly clear that we needed a small miracle to fly all the three points back to London.
Throughout the whole game we were not able to involve Giroud in our attacks, which is a bit of a worry. Towards the end we decided to put a lot of crosses into the box towards him but to no effect: he looked knackered and lacked sharpness and the Norwich defence dealt easily with him (and there was not much support for him in the box either).
I reckon the team did well to hold on to the point in the end, and a week’s rest will do them good to recharge the batteries for two key games: home against Sunderland in the PL and away to Olympiakos in Athens for the CL.
Away games after intensive CL games are seldom easy, and losing both Koz and Alexis during the game, whilst Ramsey’s road to full game fitness and awareness is once again taking time, proved too much for us. Campbell and the Ox tried but just do not have the quality to fill the holes left by Alexis’ departure and Ramsey’s lack of form. Oh how we miss the likes of Rosicky, Wilshere, Theo and possibly Welbeck on days like these.
We are just two points behind the leaders and all other direct competitors also dropped two points, so it was not too bad after all given the large number of injuries. The boys gave their all and that is all we can ask for.
Win the next two games and we are back on track again: simple as that.
We are The Arsenal!