The game was started slow to say the least, Norwich on top for some periods of play until a Danny Welbeck goal decided that the three points would remain in North London. It turned out to be a tough defeat for Alex Neil’s side, who are now far from safe as they sit in 19th place following Sunderland’s last gasp draw at Stoke City, and Newcastle United’s desperate win at home to Crystal Palace.
Welbeck extinguishes Norwich's hopes
Norwich started the game on top of things, as Arsenal seemed to refuse to take hold of the game once more. A few moments of magic from Petr Cech saved Arsenal’s dignity on a day full of controversy from the stands. Danny Welbeck broke Norwich hearts as he broke the deadlock just two minutes after being substituted into the game. A cross found Olivier Giroud, who headed the ball perfectly into the path of Welbeck, who fired the ball home on the half volley into the corner of the net, well out of Ruddy’s reach.
Time for protest
It was an extremely odd atmosphere at the Emirates today, as the Arsenal fans were split in opinion over the managerial success of Arsene Wenger. Fans held up protest signs reading ‘Time for Change’. The banners were held up in the 12th minute of the game to mark the number of years since the club last lifted the Premier League title. The protest was followed by cries of ‘One Arsene Wenger’ which made the occasion a particularly confusing one.
The Arsenal manager was quick to comment on the atmosphere of the Emirates this evening: “It was a bit of a strange atmosphere. We have to live with that. Some fans were protesting, yes, but a big majority didn’t...”
The manager went on to address the fans that were perhaps not as happy to see him remain in charge of the club: “I’m a professional who has given 19 years to this club and tries to give the best for the club.” Explained Wenger, who continued to say: “I have to accept the judgment of people. The only thing I don’t doubt is my sincere commitment to the club. After, I’m sorry if I can’t keep everyone 100 per cent happy.”
Strong words from the Arsenal manager, who was particularly thankful for the win today following an awful run of form.
The Frenchman went on to comment on the game; “It was much wanted and much needed. It was difficult.” Admitted Wenger, after experiencing a first half of frustration at the hands of a strong Norwich defence. “We played against a team who were very well organised. We didn’t find a good pace in our game but we were serious and organised, and in the end we got the win.”
Devastated Norwich City
Alex Neil was understandably disappointed with the result, as his team showed a brilliant level of commitment in their efforts to win the game: “I thought they worked extremely hard, their attitude was excellent and I thought we showed some real quality at times. I don't think we got what we deserved out of the game.” The Canaries matched the number of shots on target with Arsenal (3), but fell at the possession hurdle of the game as the statistics reveal that Arsenal dominated the direction of play.
Norwich’s lifeline in the Premier League is essentially out of their hands, as they stand one point behind Sunderland, and two behind Newcastle United. The Canaries face a test in their next fixture as they prepare to host Manchester United. Next up for Arsenal are Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in what is likely to be the decider of 4th and 3rd place.