By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal started with the same XI as in the last match. But the most important change was on the bench where Santi Cazorla was present for the first time since getting injured in the first match against Norwich in Novembre last year. Welcome back Santi.
Starting team: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.
On the bench: Ospina, Gabriel, Coquelin, Wilshere, Cazorla, Walcott, Welbeck
Arsenal with most of the ball but the first chance was for Norwich but a good save from Cech. Iwobi with a good one-two with Giroud but his left footed shot went well wide. A good combination through the middle but a defender can block the shot from Giroud. Arsenal protesters then “supporting” their team with holding up anti Arsenal banners. But also a few people with pro-Wenger banners on camera. No goals in a calm opening first 15 minutes.
Alexis with a good burst of pace but his cross shot is blocked and a defender can head it away in front of Giroud. Norwich now completely in park bus mode and Arsenal find it difficult to find an opening. Koscieln with a strong challenge on the ball leaving a Norwich player injured. It was the sliding further that brought the contact. A team that feels little support and backing can lose their confidence rather quickly and that is what it seems to be. Nobody dares to take any initiative. So still no score after 30 minutes.
Elneny with a diverted shot but Norwich can clear the corner. Elneny wins a corner after another free kick. Well taken by Özil but Koscielny heads the chance over. Jones thinking Norwich is the home team and gives them something. He is a home ref as we know. Just as my match reporter is saying that Arsenal could do with some support from their 12th man, Cech has again to make a good save. Jones keeps on inventing fouls for the home team that seems to be Norwich. Redmond shoots wide for Norwich. Bassong using his elbow against Giroud but the card stays in the pocket of the ref. Well at least he gave the foul. The header from Per goes over. Still 0-0 at the end of the first half.
Özil being pulled back clearly but as Jones supports the home team he gives no foul. Norwich again most dangerous team at the start of the second half. Per hurt his hamstring and Gabriel comes on after 50 minutes. After 55 minutes Iwobi goes off and Welbeck comes on. Elneny has a shot but again a Norwich leg for a corner. The crowd now getting behind the team a bit more and Bellerin with the cross to Giroud who heads it down in front of Welbeck who makes no mistake and scores with a low shot. GOAL! 1-0 to the Arsenal after 59 minutes.
A Norwich player controls the ball with his arm in his own penalty area but it came of his own body so a correct no decision. Alexis with a shot from distance but meters wide. Alexis can’t get to a shot at the end of an Arsenal attack as he is crowded out. A bit later Özil finds him in some space but his shot is straight at the keeper. That was a great pass from Özil. Arsenal get a few corner but Norwich can clear them. Özil then with a fine shot from distance that is tipped over by the keeper but the ref missed that. Which leads to a Norwich corner at the other end but a clear foul on Cech is well spotted by the ref this time. Arsenal 1-0 in front after 75 minutes.
Great timing from the boo boys to now start their protest again… yeah why support your team when you are in the stadium…. Norwich cannot take advantage of it and head a corner over. Elneny with a lovely shot with the outside of his foot but Ruddy with a fingertip to push it over. Welbeck working hard to win the ball back. After 83 minutes Coquelin comes on for Alexis.
Özil gets a yellow card for a high foot. Jones trying to help out Norwich when he can and only sees Arsenal fouls. Norwich now playing with the high and long ball. Jerome with a header but well off target. Özil almost finds Ramsey but the keeper first on the ball. Norwich at the other end throwing all they have in to it. And even Ruddy goes forward with a last free kick but it has no effect as Arsenal can clear.
Arsenal wins 1-0 against Norwich and the boo boys can be proud of themselves for having well protested and undermined a team already low on confidence. But hey, there is no toxic atmosphere at the Emirates…. Arsenal are now two points behind Tottenham who have to go to Chelsea next Monday. Even the prospect of St. Totteringhamsday is not appealing for the protesters….
Luckily the Arsenal Belgium supporters club was at the stadium and as most this season we win when we are there with a larger group.
No witches were burnt according to our sources.