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West Ham United
13 April 2013
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: M. Jones
• Attendance: 60095
O. Giroud 88'
L. Podolski 90'+
M. Turner 56'
My name's Ben Cullimore and it's been a pleasure talking you through a fantastic game between two wonderfully determined sides. Thank you for tuning in to Goal.com's LIVE commentary! I shall leave you with the wise words of Josh Clarke: "Well, anyone questioning whether this Arsenal side has bottle has had their doubts answered in resounding fashion here at the Emirates. A late flourish from the home side has seen them swat away Norwich, to jump into third place in the Premier League. At one point it looked as if Arsenal had neither the craft nor the energy to break down a resolute Norwich defence though the introduction of Walcott, Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain off the bench swung the game in the favour of the hosts. The downward spiral continues for Chris Hughton’s men, who now find themselves embroiled in a relegation dogfight."
As for Arsenal, the inclusion of Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and, eventually, Podolski had a hugely important effect on their play in the final third, leading to an important win today, and the three points send them above both their north London rivals Tottenham and west Londoners Chelsea into third place with 59 points. However, Chelsea and Tottenham sit just one point behind them, and the Blues have a game in hand to move back into third place once again when they travel to Fulham on Wednesday.
What a comeback by Arsenal! They certainly did leave it late and that will surely hurt Norwich even more as they were so close to picking up only their second league win this year. But, thanks, or not, to Arteta, Bassong and Podolski, the Canaries leave the Emirates without a single point and, for now at least, are only four points clear of the dreaded relegation zone...
FT: Arsenal 3-1 Norwich
90' + 5'
Arsenal are keeping possession well and are frustrating a Norwich side who clearly feel hard done by after they put in such a wonderful defence effort only to be pulled apart in the final moments. Only a few more moments to play now...
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Robert Snodgrass
90' + 3'
The once sour atmosphere at the Emirates has now turned into one of both joy and relief. Despite the job being seemingly completed, Arsenal continue to push forward, looking for a fourth.
90' + 1'
Assist Theo Walcott
90' + 1'
Goal Lukas Podolski
Goal! Arsenal have got a third! Walcott dribbles his way into the Norwich box before passing to Podolski on the edge of the area who turns and fires into the corner of the net. Arsenal have all but won it now. 3-1!
Six minutes of stoppage time will be played.
Chance! Arsenal almost score a third after sloppy defensive play from Bassong allows Giroud to fire towards goal but Bunn parries the ball over the bar for a corner.
Assist Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Goal Olivier Giroud
The hosts are clearly not content with just one point and they're pushing hard for a winner. Norwich look shaky after conceding in such a manner.
Penalty Goal Mikel Amatrian Arteta
Goal! Bunn dives the right way but Arteta's shot is too powerful and it ends up in the back of the net. 1-1!
Yellow Card Mark Bunn
Penalty to Arsenal! The ball pinballs around the Norwich penalty area and Kamara tugs at the shirt of Giroud, bringing the Frenchman down and giving Arteta the perfect opportunity to save the game from the spot.
Arsenal need a goal and they need one quick. Last roll of the dice from Wenger as he brings on Oxlade-Chamberlain in place of Sagna in the hope of forcing an equaliser with only ten minutes left to play.
Podolski hits the crossbar! Giroud chests the ball down into the path of Podolski and he fires towards goal but his shot rattles off the crossbar. It looks like Bunn got a fingertip to the shot, and, if so, that might well be the save of the match.
A patient Arsenal attack almost leads to another chance in front of goal for Podolski but Bunn beats him to the ball and slides in to smother it safely.
Wenger is fuming once again as Bunn takes his time - and then some - when Norwich are awarded a free kick deep into their own half. With little over fifteen minutes left to go and Arsenal in danger of running out of steam against a strong Norwich defense, will they be able to force an equaliser?
Arsenal's attack turns into a counterattack for Norwich and, with almost every forward, the hosts are left exposed at the back. The ball ends up with Martin on the right but he fires his shot straight at Fabianski.
Arsenal go on the attack once again and Gibbs whips in a low cross but it's just behind each one of his teammates in the centre of the box.
Podolski, on the other hand, has not been covering himself in glory since entering the field of play, and things go from bad to worse for the out-of-form German as Sagna sends in a lovely cross towards him and he, yet again, totally mistimes his strike and misses the ball entirely.
Norwich's goal has spurred Arsenal on, and rightly so. Walcott's arrival has given the hosts another dimension to their attacking play and it makes you wonder if Norwich are going to be able to hang on to their lead for much longer...
As Josh Clarke explains, Norwich are certainly lucky not to have conceded a penalty: "The home fans are fuming at the Emirates after Steven Whittaker appears to haul down Theo Walcott though escapes any punishment. The referee's assistant had a great view of that one but declines to give anything. Replays certainly suggest the Norwich left-back was in the wrong."
Penalty shout for Arsenal! Walcott breaks into the box and is seemingly barged to the ground by Whittaker, causing cries of outrage to be spewed from the home fans. Referee Mike Jones isn't interested, however, and play continues.
Free kick for Norwich halfway inside the Arsenal half and it's sent towards a clearly offside Holt who stretches out a foot but is unable to connect with the ball.
A clearly angry Arsene Wenger throws on Podolski and Walcott in place of Gerinvho and Wilshere and the German is immediately throw into the thick of it, with Walcott bundling the ball towards him in the centre of the box but he misses his kick. Luckily for his ego, the assistant referee raises his flag for offside.
Here are Josh Clarke's thoughts on the opening goal: "Wowza. Totally against the odds Norwich have taken the lead. Robert Snodgrass sends in a freekick from the left-hand side of the box and Michael Turner rises, unopposed, to nod beyond Lukas Fabianski. I think Laurent Koscileny could be the guilty party for the Gunners."
Assist Robert Snodgrass
Goal Michael Turner
GOAL! Well, well, well... Arsenal have almost completely dominated from the start but it's Norwich who score the opening goal. Snodgrass, who has been excellent today for the Canaries, whips in a lovely free kick from the right and Turner heads the ball into the far left corner of the goal past a stationary Fabianski. 1-0 to the visitors!
Shouts for handball from the home fans after Gibbs picks up Ramsay's scooped pass and fires from close range into one of the many yellow shirts holding firm in front of goal. However, nothing's given and play continues.
With no men forward, the ball returns to Arsenal and they push forward again, forcing Norwich to concede a seventh corner kick. Again, they are able to deal with the threat but it ends up back at the feet of Arsenal.
Once again, Arsenal counterattack from defending well and they win themselves a corner. Cazorla fires it close to Bunn but it's too close to the goalkeeper and he's able to punch the ball away.
Chance for Norwich! Snodgrass delivers a strong corner kick towards Bassong who heads the ball down towards Turner but he's unable to force the ball past Fabianski and the Arsenal defence clear it from danger.
Johnson concedes a free kick on the right hand side of the Norwich half and Cazorla whips the ball in to a loaded penalty area. Turner jumps high and clears the Spaniard's set piece to Gibbs who is unable to send his cross back into the box.
Arsenal start the second half exactly as they finished the first: in control and pushing every available man forward as they embark on a string of attacking plays.
We're back underway!
Here are Josh Clarke's thoughts on all of the action from the first half: "Half-time at the Emirates Stadium and it’s goalless between Arsenal and Norwich. The Gunners have had a few threatening spells and will be upset not to have capitalised on some decent chances, while the visitors are looking every bit the team struggling for confidence. The longer the home side go without scoring, the more tetchy the atmosphere will become here. That surely represents the Canaries’ best chance of getting anything out of this game, though with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott primed to come off the bench, Arsene Wenger is spoiled for choice as he hunts the win that would take his side into third place in the Premier League."
Despite a plethora of chances from Arsenal from start to finish, it remains goalless at the half time break thanks to resolute defending from the visitors. Norwich have spent the majority of the first period on the back foot, constantly defending onslaught after onslaught from the hosts and have found it difficult to carve out any real chances of their own. However, as the game goes on and Arsenal remain goalless, the Canaries will be well aware that their chances of nicking an all-important goal will improve as the home side get more and more anxious.
HT: Arsenal 0-0 Norwich
45' + 1'
Another headed effort for Giroud! The free kick leads to a corner which is met by the head of the Frenchman but Whittaker rises high and deflects the ball behind for another corner in the dying moments of the first half.
Snodgrass returns onto the field of play and almost immediately gives away a free kick, running into Wilshere and flattening him with some force.
Snodgrass is down on the ground and holding his ankle. The Norwich physios come on to give him some treatment whilst Arsenal wait to take a corner and the Scot finally limps off the field for further inspection so that play can get underway once again.
Norwich press once again with both Whittaker and Kamara sending crosses into the Arsenal box, but the hosts deal with the threat and the Canaries' attack finally fizzles out as the flag goes up for offside against Holt.
Cazorla finds himself in space with the ball just outside the Norwich penalty area and decides to give it a go with a long range effort, but he strikes his shot comfortably into Bunn's hands.
The last four minutes have been the best of the half so far for the visitors, with the Canaries pulling together some impressive passes and embarking on some fine attacking runs. However, Arsenal have been as impressive in defence as they have been in attack and the threat of each attacking movement has been extinguished and turned swiftly into a strong counter-attack.
The corner is easily headed away but Arteta gives away another free kick with a poor challenge on Whittaker in a similar position to Sagna's.
Yellow Card Bacary Sagna
Yellow card for Sagna as he seemingly tries to give Snodgrass a hug around the neck while the two are battling for the ball near the halfway line. Norwich fire in a long ball towards the Arsenal box from the resulting free kick and are eventually awarded with their first corner of the match.
The action is coming in thick and fast at the moment! Here's what Josh Clarke has to say: "Gervinho has been in the thick of things at the Emirates Stadium in the last five minutes. Firstly, the Ivorian pickpockets Michael Turner, drives in towards the Norwich box but struggles for ideas before eventually losing out to the recovering Turner. Then, moments later, the winger is released by Wilshere’s slide rule pass though, after rounding Bunn, dribbles a shot wide of the far post from a very difficult angle. And, just as I was just about to sign off, Bunn makes a point blank save to deny Olivier Giroud at the near post. Norwich holding on here, desperately."
Sagna again sets up Giroud in front of goal, this time with a low cross, and the Frenchman slides in but his effort is flapped away by Bunn and eventually cleared towards the halfway line.
What a chance for Arsenal! Giroud unleshes an absolutely beautiful through ball towards Gervinho who skips past the Norwich back line and takes the ball round Bunn, but his touch is too heavy and the ball goes too wide for him to slot home. Still, his effort rolls only just wide of the far post.
Gervinho steals the ball off Turner and tries to dribble his way into the box but a last-ditch tackle sends the ball sees the ball trickle into the hands of Bunn.
Norwich have barely ventured into Arsenal territory at all during this first period, with the visitors only having 39% of the possession so far.
Crossbar! Arsenal are looking extremely dangerous at the moment. Sagna picks up the ball down the right flank and sends it into the centre of the penalty area towards Giroud, and the French striker's looping headed effort bounces off the crossbar.
Great chance for Ramsey to put the hosts 1-0 ahead when silky smooth passing play leads to Wilshere on the edge of the box and the Englishman deftly flicks the ball over the top of the Norwich back line and into the path of his Welsh teammate in front of goal. However, Bunn is able to come out quickly and collect the ball before Ramsey can make any sort of contact.
Plenty of attacking chances for Arsenal, who have pretty much completely dominated the game so far, as we approach the 20 minute mark, but their passes have let them down when it matters.
Ramsey and Wilshere link up well, setting the former setting the latter up inside the Norwich penalty area but the flag goes up for offside.
Here's what our man at the Emirates Josh Clarke has to say on the opening 15 minutes of action: "Little to report on in the opening 15 minutes of Arsenal vs Norwich, though I think few will be surprised to learn that Jack Wilshere isn’t easing himself back into the swing of things. The England midfielder has stationed himself as the creative hub behind Olivier Giroud and has released Kieron Gibbs with a lovely reverse pass, taking a clattering off Bradley Johnson and generally made a nuisance of himself so far."
Ramsey is poorly challenged by Johnson in the centre of the field, allowing Cazorla to whip in a dangerous free-kick into the heart of the penalty area but it's dealt with easily enough by the Norwich defence and the danger is cleared yet again.
Arsenal embark on yet another attack but poor controlling from Gervinho sees the ball bounce off the Ivorian and out for a Norwich throw-in, allowing them some time to breathe.
Gibbs chips in wonderfully from the left hand side of the Norwich box but the ball is just too far out of the reach of Wilshere's outstretched foot in the centre of the area, allowing Norwich to clear and regroup.
Good early pressure from the home side so far, but Norwich have dropped deep and put every available man behind the ball to make life as difficult as possible for the hosts.
Arsenal's defending swiftly sets up a promising counter attack, with Gervinho whipping the ball across goal towards Wilshere in the middle of the Norwich penalty are but it's bundled away in the end by a sea of yellow shirts.
Norwich work the ball forward comfortably and embark on an early attack but the Arsenal defence hold strong and clear the danger up field.
And we're off! Norwich get us underway.
With Arsenal currently in impressive form, winning seven out of their last nine Premier League games, and with Norwich drawing seven out of their last 11 league matches and with only one win since Christmas, it's difficult to see this game going the visitor's way. A win for Arsenal will send them above both Tottenham and Chelsea to third place, and Arsene Wenger will be well aware of the importance of victory today if they are to keep themselves firmly involved in the battle for a Champions League spot finish this season.
Norwich boss Chris Hughton makes three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Swansea, with Steven Whittaker replacing Javier Garrido, Elliot Bennett dropping to the bench to be replaced by Alexander Tettey, and Grant Holt returning to the starting lineup, replacing Wes Hoolahan.
NORWICH STARTING XI: Bunn, R. Martin, Bassong, Turner, Whittaker, Johnson, Howson, Tettey, Snodgrass, Kamara, Holt. SUBS: Camp, Jackson, Fox, E. Bennett, Garrido, Becchio, R. Bennett
Jack Wilshere returns from injury to the Arsenal starting lineup to replace in-form Tomas Rosicky, who scored both goals in the Gunners' 2-1 victory over West Brom last weekend, and Thomas Vermaelen takes the place of the suspended Per Mertesacker, who picked up a straight red card in that win.
ARSENAL STARTING XI: Fabianski, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Gervinho, Giroud. SUBS: Mannone, Jenkinson, Monreal, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski
With 20 minutes to go until kick off, let's have a look at how the two sides line up...
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE commentary of Arsenal vs. Norwich. I'm Ben Cullimore and I'll be keeping you up-to-date with all of the action from today's clash at the Emirates.
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