By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal starting with: Macey, Debuchy, Elneny, Holding, Nelson, Coquelin, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud
On the beach: Iliev, Osei-Tutu, Dasilva, Sheaf, Willock, Nketiah, Akpom
A match that just was not really getting on fire at first. Arsenal dominating and Norwich leaning back in front of their own penalty area. Too many bodies in the way of the Arsenal passing that wasn’t up to the standard you need to get through such a packed defence. Apart from some woeful shooting no real goal chances at both ends.
After a corner Holding gets a header from close range but the keeper with a amazing stop on the goal line. And suddenly out of nothing Norwich can counter for the first time really and Murphy is sent away and lobs the ball over Macey. 0-1 to Norwich after 34 minutes.
Arsenal looked shocked and a second counter some 5 minutes later sees Macey with a great save on a low effort to prevent Norwich from scoring again. Arsenal trying to make something happen in the final minutes of the first half but apart from a dangerous run from Nelson followed by a corner and two shots from Walcott no real goal danger. We go in the dressing room 0-1 behind and too many players below level.
Norwich kept on defending in numbers and speculating on a lucky break like they did in the first half. Some Arsenal players (certainly players who have that bit of experience like Iwobi) not being at the level they can reach. Maybe too many watercarriers in the team and only one maestro in the person of Wilshere?
Elneny brings Oliveira down when he looked to be away. Lucky for him Holding was running a bit beside them otherwise it could have been a red card. Norwich countering dangerous now and the Arsenal presssure toothless most of the time. Macey being attentive when he has to do some work now.
After 70 minutes of sterile pressure Maitland-Niles comes off and Akpom enters the field. But the danger now mostly from Norwich counters but they don’t take advantage of the space they get on the field. A few Arsenal shots hitting Norwich arms in the penalty area but nothing given by the ref. One looked a penalty to me when the defender had his arms raised to make himself bigger.
Arsenal press and press and press but only half chances for the Gunners. We need something special to score I think. After 82 minutes Nketiah comes on for Nelson who had a decent match. Corner to Arsenal that is flicked on at the near post and would you believe it…….Nketiah bundles the ball over the line. GOAL!!!! 1-1 after 86 minutes! His first touch and he scores! What an impact sub!
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Arsenal have one more chance to win it but the shot from Akpom is diverted in to a corner, correction the ref gives a goal kick. Full time 1-1 and extra time thanks to Eddie Nketiah!
Both sets of players look tired and not much happening apart from Arsenal having most of the ball. Suddenly the ball breaks to Walcott but the keeper manages to get a hand to the shot and it goes out for a corner. Corner is given and my oh my…. he does it again. Nketiah who isn’t the biggest player on the pitch heads the corner in the Norwich net. GOAL!!!!!! 2-1 after 96 minutes! Can you believe this?
Not much happening for the rest in the first period of extra time. Apart from Iwobi having cramps and Josh Dasilva coming on in his place. Still 15 minutes to go.
Nketiah again with a great action but this time the Nowich keeper can stop his effort. What a match the 18 year old is having. Joe Willock enters the field for an exhausted Jack Wilshere after 115 minutes. He almost also scores with his first action but his shot goes over.
Then a Norwich player goes down in the Arsenal penalty area in what was for me a clear penalty. But the ref seems penalty allergic and waves the Norwich protest away. We escape there. And at the other end Nketiah has another run but his left footed shot sails over the crossbar.
That brings the end of the game. We won in a match that looked lost till a few minutes from the end. We didn’t have the players to go round people on the left flank in particular and that really hampered us for a long time till Akpom came on.
The bringing of Nketiah proved to be a masterstroke from Wenger in the end. My boy what a great match the 18 year young lad had. More of this please.