Norwich City (Holt 19) – Arsenal 0
Man of the Match – Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City)
Ok, I am officially depressed. Yes, I am. Completely contrasting emotions from 2 weeks ago, when I was brimming with confidence after the West Ham win. Arsenal have gone to be Arsenal again, managing to delight and frustrate us with equal measure.
To think that I waited 2 weeks for this game with eager anticipation, and lived through hell watching international football is even more depressing. But, let’s face it. As an Arsenal fan, this is what you can expect. We can even make Norwich City look like Manchester City, and we can make Manchester City look like Norwich City. That’s Arsenal in a nutshell.
The game then, though there is nothing much to dissect, in a game where we were toothless, and John Ruddy could have called it a day at half time, and sat among the crowd eating pies and sandwiches, and we still wouldn’t have scored. It was one of those nights.
There were no surprises in the starting lineup. Kieran Gibbs was replaced by Andre Santos, while Jack Wilshere returned to the squad after nearly 14 months out. The recent spate of injuries means the Gunners were without Walcott, Koscielny, Gibbs, Szczesny and Fabianski, while Rosicky and Sagna are still some time away from match fitness. That meant Johan Djourou and Andrey Arshavin made the bench.
Norwich made only two changes from the squad that lost to Chelsea, with Anthony Pilkington and Michael Turner coming in for Leon Barnett and Johnny Howson. They had only two players on international duty, while Arsenal had 15 players away. And that is just to clutch at straws, for starters.
Anthony Pilkington had the first chance of the match, but that was before Arsenal took the game under their control, with some neat passing play, with little to show for it. Norwich, however, were looking to close down on every opportunity possible, and made it hard for the Gunners to come to their stride.
Norwich, with their hardworking approach, looked dangerous at times, and went into the lead, when a shot from far out, by Alexander Tettey, bounced right in front of a diving Vito Mannone, who couldn’t catch it first time, and slid into the path of an onrushing Grant Holt. And, he doesn’t miss from there. It was the easiest of tap-ins for the bulky striker.
And the Canaries weren’t done yet. They hassled and harried Arsenal off the ball, and looked to be playing more confidently, despite Arsenal having more amount of possession. Norwich should have gone 2-0 up, but a towering header from Michael Turner, went wide.
It was the same old, same old story in the second half, with Arsenal patiently trying to break down a side, happy to sit back. Only difference was, we barely made the goalkeeper work. Norwich were happy to frustrate a toothless Arsenal attack. Santi Cazorla looked ineffective, and looked a bit jaded as well, after the internationals.
Lukas Podolski had little to offer, and was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who looked like he would create the difference, but he was soon bought off, after being caught by a trailing leg by Sebastien Bassong. Andrei Arshavin came on, and did look lively, but not enough to create chances of any sort.
Gervinho looked woeful at times. While there is no doubting his work rate, he gets unstuck in some situations, and just runs around trying to get a cross in, which can be frustrating. Olivier Giroud had a chance, when Jenkinson’s cross came in, but his effort went wide.
Norwich came the closest to scoring the second goal of the game, when a slip by Thomas Vermaelen, allowed Holt to run in at Arsenal, with only Mertesacker to cover. With only the keeper to beat, he tried to chip, but it was caught by Mannone.
Arsenal upped the pressure, even bringing Serge Gnabry on, but were effectively shut out. Mikel Arteta had a shot, but it was a routine save for Ruddy. Gervinho then got a great chance to level matters, but his effort was a bit too late, and was blocked by an onrushing Bassong. As the final whistle blew, it was another stark reminder to fans, players and staff alike, that we are clearly some way off to coming close to challenging for honours this season.
Positives, not too many. In fact, none. Despite having so much of the ball, Norwich had the more clear cut chances. Negatives, well there are plenty. First, we looked jaded, but we shouldn’t be giving excuses. Giroud looked to slow, and at times, even uninterested. Gervinho and Podolski didn’t look threatening at all. Cazorla, for the first time, looked marginalized. Ramsey had another average game as well.
Defensively, I think Santos was ok. He is playing after a long time, and so was the case, he had to bomb up far too often, to link up with the attack. Even Mertesacker was used as an emergency forward, and that is worrying, that we do not have a backup striker, who can come on in situations like these.
To think of it, Sturridge scored yesterday against Sp*rs, and Dzeko seems to be the best substitute ever created by god. Manchester United can call on Javier Hernandez, and even Sp*rs have that money grabbing cunt Adebayor.
Yes, we start with three strikers, but I think we should start with two, because Podolski looks half the player he is when he is playing on the left. More often than not, he has had to drop back, and we just don’t seem to get the best out of him.
Enough handbags, rants and analysis. I just want a win on Wednesday against Schalke, to soothe my nerves.