Ok, let’s get the first half out of the way as quickly as possible because it was rubbish. Only three things happened.
1 – Norwich scored in the 20th minute. [Dunno his first name] Tettey was allowed all kinds of room in midfield to drive forward and unleash a low, swerving shot from distance which Mannone stopped going into the net, but rather than push it away it rebounded sideways into the path of Grant Holt who finished from close range.
It was poor defensively from Arsenal and although the ball was moving a bit you really want your goalkeeper to do better with those kind of shots.
2 – Norwich nearly scored again when Mannone did an Almunia impression, scampering out wide to put off Holt who managed to get a cross in. With no keeper it would have been a tap in but for a timely intervention by Arteta who bashed it clear.
3 – Arsenal played terribly. Like a team whose players were travelling all over the world, for example, and we looked tired, slugging, and lacking any real energy or movement. That travel didn’t stop United, Chelsea and City all winning today though.
Other than that there’s little to say about a 45 minutes of football that was approximately 45 minutes too long.
The second half was really not much of an improvement. Arsenal were slightly better, but only in the way that listening to Phil Collins for three minutes is better than listening to Phil Collins for four minutes.
It took until the 87th minute before Arsenal had a real shot on target. Mikel Arteta’s left footed effort was hard, low and on target but Ruddy saved and, crucially, hung onto the ball preventing an easy tap in for an opponent.
Norwich could have been further ahead by then with a number of breaks as Arsenal pressed forward. Thankfully, anything beyond a tap-in is mind-melting for Grant Holt and twice he messed up. Once shooting wide, and once trying to chip Mannone after taking advantage of a Vermaelen slip.
Arsenal brought on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who got injured within 20 seconds of coming on and, unable to run it off, was replaced by Andrei Arshavin. 17 year old Serge Gnabry made his debut and looked lively enough but could hardly be expected to pull this one out of the fire for a lacklustre Arsenal side. There was no sign of Jack Wilshere.
There was no controversy, no real talking point from an Arsenal point of view other than how abject the performance was, and after all the other title contenders won after the Interlull, we can’t use that as an excuse either.
A very bad day at the office indeed.