Arsenal’s participation in next season’s Champions League remains uncertain following a tumultuous 3-3 draw with Norwich City at Emirates Stadium today.
Arsenal got off to the best possible start with a quickfire goal from Yossi Benayoun, but the visitors led at the break after sloppy defending allowed Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt to score. Robin van Persie looked to have turned things around with a second half brace, but Steve Morison’s goal five minutes from time means that Arsenal will be watching nervously tomorrow as Tottenham and Newcastle play their games in hand.
Arsene Wenger opted for the same starting line up as against Stoke last week, and his side burst out of the traps, with Benayoun latching onto a ball from Tomas Rosicky and cracking home a superb strike with less than two minutes on the clock to open the scoring. The Israeli’s face was a picture of happiness, with the goal made an even more emotional moment given that this was potentially his final home game for the club.
Having taken the lead, Arsenal started to lose concentration and, eventually, a goal. Wojciech Szczesny really should have done better with Wes Hoolahan’s tame shot, then, on 27 minutes, a Grant Holt effort deflected off Kieran Gibbs and looped over the stranded Szczesny to put the visitors in front.
van Persie and Kieran Gibbs, the latter playing against his former loan club, both had efforts before the break, but Arsenal’s situation was made even worse when Bacary Sagna was forced to withdraw with what was later confirmed as a broken leg. He was replaced by Francis Coquelin and the second period would prove to be even more open than the first.
Simeon Jackson really should have done better and applied the finishing touch to a Norwich break, before Arsenal started to carve out chances. Aaron Ramsey squandered a good opportunity, then Thomas Vermaelen was denied and Tomas Rosicky, who was at least attempting to inject some urgency into Arsenal’s attack, shot wide when well placed.
Arsenal eventually drew themselves level when van Persie turned home a ball from Alex Song. The PFA and Football Writer’s Player of the Year then doubled his tally after being threaded through by Rosicky. That looked to be that, but nothing is ever certain where Arsenal are concerned, and Norwich subsequently broke downfield and levelled proceedings again through a well struck effort from Morison.
There were still chances for Arsenal to go ahead again late on and what appeared a clear penalty claim was turned down when van Persie was brought down by on-loan Tottenham Hotspur defender Kyle Naughton. It was the final major piece of action in what had been a crazy game, with Arsenal made to pay for some inept defending and casualness in their play.