Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell, Chambers, The Jeff
Arsenal dropped two more Premier League points and lost Laurent Koscielyn and Alexis Sanchez to injury in a 1-1 draw with Norwich at Carrow Road this afternoon. There was one change from the team that beat Dinamo Zagreb in midweek with Aaron Ramsey returning on the right in place of Joel Campbell.
The Gunners were sporting the hideous third kit for no good reason at all, and had the first effort on goal when Alexis Sanchez whacked a shot not too far wide from 25 yards out.
However, the bright start was dampened when Laurent Koscielny looked to pick up a muscle injury, twisting something in his back/hip area in the 8th minute. The French international looked in real pain, and was replaced by Gabriel in the 12th minute.
After being set up by Nacho Monreal, Mesut Ozil saw a goal-bound effort deflected out for a corner by Sebastian Bassong, before Olivier Giroud got similar service from the Spaniard, but couldn’t get his foot around a near post cross.
Although Arsenal dominated possession, Per Mertesacker had to be alert to stop Robbie Brady running through on goal, before a brilliant Santi Cazorla run saw him create a chance for Alexis but his fierce shot was saved by John Ruddy. The Spanish international had a go himself a few moments later, curling over with his left foot, but within 60 seconds Arsenal were ahead.
The Norwich keeper cleared into midfield to one of their players, his touch was poor, Alexis robbed him and played the ball into Ozil. The German’s clipped finished over the advancing keeper was perfection to make it 1-0.
Norwich’s Ryan Bennett was lucky to get away with a nasty push on Alexis while he was in the air. The Chilean ended up in a cameraman’s pit, and as an incident it was similar to Arnautovic on Debuchy which saw the Frenchman seriously injured last season.
The home side then got an equaliser just before half-time time, Lewis Grabban getting away from Gabriel a bit easily in the box, slotting home from close range. 1-1.
And it could have been worse when a cross from the right found Wes Hoolahan free at the back post but he blasted his shot over the bar. It meant the teams went in level at the break, and Arsenal had avoided repeating the feat of going ahead and falling behind as they did at West Brom.
The second period began with an injury scare for Cazorla, caught in a challenge and left feeling his knee, but thankfully he was able to continue. There was almost a chance for Ozil when the ball bounced over Ruddy, but a Norwich defender hooked the ball away before the German could finish from close range.
He had another chance in the 58th minute, a free kick from a good position but hit the wall, before there was another injury blow when Alexis pulled up with a very obvious hamstring pull, which saw him replaced by Joel Campbell in the 62nd minute. The Chilean had been nursing a problem for a few weeks, but today was the day when it couldn’t hold up any more and we’ll have to wait to see how long he’ll be out for.
Arsenal were rocked a little, with Petr Cech forced into a brilliant save low down at his near post when a cross came off Gabriel, and from the resulting corner Howson swiveled and shot over from close range. Arsene Wenger made his final change as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Ramsey and the Gunners went looking for a winner.
Giroud headed an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross over under some pressure, and Arsenal had Gabriel to thank when he cleared an Olsson cross from a very dangerous position – the Norwich player should probably have had a shot.
There was little in the way of attacking threat from Arsenal, the final stages of the game were uninspired and unimaginative, and another away day saw two points dropped, two more injuries to very important players, and another poor day at the office.
We remain just 2 points off the top, but the worries increase due to performance and an ever-dwindling squad.