Tag Archives: Norwich

Match Report: Norwich 2 – 2 Arsenal

Norwich City (2) 2 Arsenal (1) 2
Premier League
Carrow Road, Norwich NR1 3JE
Sunday, 1st December 2019. Kick-off time: 2.00pm

(4-3-1-2) Bernd Leno; Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac; Mattéo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Joe Willock; Mesut Özil; Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Nicolas Pépé, Emiliano Martínez, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka.
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (28 mins, 57 mins)
Yellow Cards: Calum Chambers
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 61%
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: 27,067

And so, on a cold and brisk afternoon in Norfolk, a new beginning unfolds for us all. So much has been said and done in the past forty-eight hours, it would seem almost churlish to repeat things that we all already know and have opinions about; except to say that we now have a caretaker manager in the form of the popular ex-player Freddie Ljungberg, and not only is it our duty to support him and the players through this period of transition, but ourselves too. Make no mistake, in a very short while, we will discover just who the chosen one is to take over the manager’s role permanently from Unai Emery; all we can hope is that the recommendation of Raul Sanllehi, Edu and Vinai Venkatesham in their report to various Kroenkes is the correct one for everyone involved. After all, in the impatient world that modern football inhabits, Arsenal Football Club surely cannot afford to make the same mistakes in their managerial choice again.

We started the match brightly enough, and as early as the fourth minute Alexandre Lacazette was unlucky not to score with a good effort that went wide of the post. Arsenal appeared to find confidence in their movement, both on and off the ball, with most of the action being in the Norwich half; Shkodran Mustafi’s header was cleared off the line, and despite the odd breakout by the home side, the first quarter of an hour showed our dominance. Calum Chambers was also desperately unlucky not to score with a glancing header from a Mesut Özil corner, and it became clear that Norwich City’s zonal marking system was not exactly working in their favour. However, totally against the run of play, Teemu Pukki ran onto a through ball, and his shot went past Bernd Leno (via a deflection from Shkodran Mustafi) to give the home side the lead after twenty minutes.

In a controversial period of the match, just a couple of minutes later, a wicked cross from the right caught defender Christoph Zimmerman’s carelessly positioned upright arm and a penalty was given to us; subsequently goalkeeper Tim Krul saved Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s initial strike, but because of encroachment, VAR was consulted again and this time our captain made no mistake in equalising the scores. This incident merely served to fire both sides up, and by now some careless tackles from both teams were flying around, in which it was a miracle no-one was booked. Despite all of our considerable efforts, the home side took the lead through a strike from Todd Cantwell in injury time when we were caught by a counter-attack, which meant that we went into the break 1-2 down, quite undeservedly it has to be said.

The second half started more doggedly with Arsenal constantly attempting to break down a stoic Norwich City defence; again we were caught by a counter attack by the home side in which we were fortunate to address the situation adequately. Twelve minutes after the restart, we drew level with a superb opportunist goal from our captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when he was hovering, unmarked on the edge of the Norwich six-yard box; when the ball came to him from a corner (via a Calum Chambers header), he made no mistake. The home side came back at us in earnest, and poor marking from our defenders almost led to a third Norwich City goal on three occasions; thankfully Bernd Leno was more attentive than the Arsenal defence.

Entering the last twenty minutes of the match, it seemed as if every time the home side came forward, they looked like they were going to score, and so, recognising this, Joe Willock was substituted for Lucas Torreira, in an attempt to shore up the midfield; now we had serious work to do here. More pressure was put on us, so with fourteen minutes left, Bukayo Saka replaced Mattéo Guendouzi, thus giving us more width. It certainly worked, as were able to apply more pressure in vital areas of the pitch. And so the battle continued with no quarter given nor taken. Gabriel Martinelli took the place of Mesut Özil with two minutes of the match remaining. Bernd Leno was absolutely immense in this game, and the saves that he made in injury time kept us in the match. In the dying moments, Lucas Torreira was desperately unlucky not to score, but sadly it was not to be, and we went home with a draw.

Overall, it was certainly better than we had any right to expect, given our recent run of results. We moved quicker around the pitch than previously and we certainly played with more purpose. But the same old problems arise, particularly with regards to the defence, which is still porous, and has a serious absence of leadership. The marking isn’t tight enough, and the defence has the annoying habit of going to sleep at crucial points in the match. Having said that, we came back twice to earn this draw, and a point is certainly better than nothing. No doubt about it, Freddie Ljungberg has a lot of work to do here, and only time will tell how many of these players will still be at the club this time next year.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Brighton and Hove Albion at The Emirates on Thursday, 5th December at 8.15pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

10 academy graduates see Arsenal through

Well that was an interesting match wasn’t it…

Somehow, despite every senior player on the pitch being atrocious, we got through, we won, we are in the hat for the next round of the Copacabana Cup after beating Norwich 2-1 in Extra Time.

Hero of the night was Arsenal youngster Eddie Nketiah who came off the bench to save the day for Arsenal.

Over the years I have debated with GC on numerous platforms about having local lads in the team. I have always been of the opinion that if they are good enough, they will get in the side, and they we are a global football team in a global game chasing top honours. We are not care in the community, we should not deliberately have a weaker side just to accommodate local lads.

Yes, in theory, I would love us to be like an Athletic Bilbao, where we have 11 lads all from Islington in the starting XI, but then we would be a mid table side with no hope of success, like Bilbao.

But it was pleasing to see yesterday Arsenal give game time to 10 academy graduates.

In the days of modern academy’s, not all 10 were local born lads who have been with the club since they were 8.

Goal keeper Matt Macey, making his first team debut, was signed from Bristol Rovers at the age of 18. At just 23, he put in a solid performance with a couple of exceptional saves. A critic would say he should have been out quicker for their goal, but overall he can be please with his Arsenal debut.

Macey became the first English goal keeper to play for Arsenal in a senior game at home since moving to the emirates Stadium.

Reiss Nelson – from Elephant and Castle – impressed once more in the wing back position. With Arsenal pretty much through in Europe, I would not mind him starting a few games behind the striker, as he is clearly a talented attacker. And still just 17.

On the other side of the pitch, Essex boy Ainsley Maitland-Niles (from Ilford) did well. He is clearly not a left wing back, and a few of our attacks broke down when he had to cut in on the right side. If we do give Nelson a chance higher up the pitch, I would like to see Maitland-Niles move across to the right where he will be more comfortable. He could prove to be good long-term cover for Hector Bellerin.

Chuba Akpom, now 22, will probably be frustrated by his nights work. The Canning Town lad did not play poorly, infact him coming on injected much needed pace at the top of the field. His frustrations will be that whilst he made his debut 3 years ago, he is still awaiting his first goal, whilst Nketiah got two on his debut. Akpom’s future is shakey as other younger strikers begin to impress.

Eddie Nketiah has only been with the club for 2 years, having been released by Chelsea in 2015. The Lewisham lad took both his goals very well, and I am sure there will be plenty of loan offers from Championship sides on the table in January.

Josh da Silva (another Ilford born Essex boy) and Joe Willock (Waltham Forest) also got another appearance under their belt, both coming on in the second half of Extra Time.

Arsenal also had 3 senior players on the pitch who came through the youth system.

Stevenage’s finest, Jack Wilshere continued his rehabilitation playing 114 minutes. This after a 15 minute run out on Sunday.

The extra time probably means he will now not play against Swansea on Saturday as Arsenal take it slowly with him. Everyone’s hears would have been in their mouths at one point when it seemed he was holding his groin, but he battled through.

Francis Coquelin, who came through the academy system alongside Wilshere – via France – had a poor game. His technique was shown up once more, and he has to realise that he is not a playmaker. He should be told not to cross the halfway line.

The final academy graduate, and most successful in recent years, was Lagos born Alex Iwobi, who has been with the club since he was 9. He had a mixed game, but it must be remembered he is still just 21. Not much older than many of the other youngsters, yet considered a senior player.

Writing this blog, it is interesting how far and wide young players now come from. The dream of XI Islington Boys will never happen. The 10 academy lads did have a lot of Londoners in it, but the closest you get to a proper local lad is Joe Willock, who was born not too far from the Hale End Academy.

It is actually interesting walking through Walthamstow Central Station at about 7pm. You see a load of youngsters in their Arsenal tracksuits getting on the train home, to whatever part of London the reside in – the journey to Lewisham or Elephant & Castle that Nelson or Nketiah would have made as teenagers is an hour long one.

None of the Arsenal youngsters performed poorly, but they were nearly let down by their senior pros.

Olivier Giroud did nothing. He struggles when teams defend high.

The current formation does not suit Theo Walcott. He is not an Alexis Sanchez. He does not have the technique to play in tight spaces behind the striker. If we are going to continue mirroring the formations no matter who plays, Walcott surely has to drop to the bench.

Coquelin, as previously said, was poor. He thinks he is an attacking player, but too often play breaks down with him in advanced positions.

Wilshere and Iwobi also had poor games. Neither seemed to know who was playing central midfield and who was supposed to be attacking.

All 5 had poor games, and none of them will be screaming to start in the Premier League team.

One senior player who did look good was Mathieu Debuchy.

Debuchy has had an unlucky time of it at Arsenal, with injury and the development of Hector Bellerin meaning that he became surplus to requirements.

He has thrown his toys out of the pram more than once and his time at the club looked to be over this summer. But he played well yesterday.

As long as his attitude remains positive and he stays fit, he provides good cover for Bellerin at right wing back, and on the right hand side of the defensive 3. I do not think he lost a header yesterday.

Debuchy should look at Nacho Monreal and the way the Spaniard has re-invented himself and, despite being 32, take the same positive approach.

On the two points that Norwich fans are moaning about, it was never a red card for Mohamad Elneny. The Norwich player was a long way from goal, Holding was up with play, and the Norwich player cut infront of Elneny.

What could Elneny do? Anyone who drives knows that if, on a motorway, a car swerves infront of you and slams on the breaks, no matter how quick you reactions are, you will go into the back of them.

As for the penalty, there was almost no contact. He did not pull him back. He did little wrong. An example of the fact that contact does not mean it is a foul.

I was impressed by 20 year old James Maddison. I first saw him a couple of years ago as a teenager playing for Coventry, and he looked very comfortable on the ball. He would not have been out of place in an Arsenal shirt last night. The lad has a big future.

So we are in the quarter final of the only domestic trophy Arsene Wenger has never won. Manchester United and Man City are also already in the hat, with Chelsea and Spurs to play tonight.

The big clubs are often criticised for not taking the tournament seriously, but there is going to be a big presence from those sides in the QF.

Too early to be dreaming about another trip to Wembley?

Keenos