Similar to the previous game against Sunderland this was an important game for both teams for different reasons. We were fighting for a Champions League place and Norwich were fighting for survival. As a result it wasn’t going to be an easy game at all but it was one that a team like us have to win.
Off the pitch Arsenal are struggling with fans divided on opinions of the club and Wenger, and the latter has had a lot of pressure on him recently.
Just like with the game against West Brom protests were expected and it is definitely the worst mood I have experienced as an Arsenal fan. Wenger even said that the players have been effected by the atmosphere at home which hasn’t gone down well with the fans as you can imagine!
So the under fire boss named the same side that drew against Sunderland with Giroud starting ahead of Welbeck again which I thought was the wrong decision. Cazorla also returned to the bench and we have missed him a lot.
Some have even said that if Cazorla hadn’t got injured we could have won the title and I think we definitely would have had a better chance. It is annoying though that we seem to be affected by injuries every season and you have to question why that is.
Norwich started the brighter team by creating the best chances on the break with Cech having to make some good saves. We dominated the possession as usual but struggled to create anything as Norwich defended well in numbers (parked the bus) and it is worrying how many teams can do this to us and be successful. This is another thing that needs to be looked at.
In the 12th minute the first of the two planned protests took place and the significance of 12 was the number of years since we have won the league title. Banners were held by some fans around the stadium to show that they wanted change. I saw some being distributed outside the stadium but I was never going to take one because I think it is pointless and stupid to do it at a match and you should always get behind the team no matter what happens.
The protest was however as bad as Arsenal’s first half performance as it was met by the majority of fans singing ‘We Love You Arsenal We Do’ and ‘One Arsene Wenger’ which I was surprised to hear but it shows that a lot of fans are still behind him or at least are showing him the respect he deserves. So if anything the protest made more fans support Wenger and the club.
We controlled the first half but ended it without a shot on target which wasn’t good enough but showed how well Norwich defended. Norwich arguably should have been winning but it ended goalless and we needed to change something in the second half.
We continued in the same way though until Danny Welbeck came on just before the hour mark and completely changed the game. He replaced Iwobi much to the anger of the fans who wanted Giroud off and I can’t blame them as he wasn’t playing well at all.
This was all forgotten just three minutes later though as Welbeck put us into the lead with a good low finish. It was also a good assist from Giroud who laid it down for him so perhaps he just needed some more help up front. Why didn’t Welbeck start though?
The goal helped us grow into the game as we had chances from Alexis Sanchez and Özil but Norwich still posed a threat. We defended well though and kept a clean sheet for the third game in a row with the game ending 1-0 to us.
The result relieves the pressure off Wenger a bit but this season does feel like a missed opportunity for us to win the league and fans are fed up with only coming in the top four every year without a serious challenge. Something does have to change next season and I think it will as it could be Wenger’s last year. Norwich on the other hand are in real trouble and have a difficult job to stay up which shows it could be a lot worse for us!
Following the weekend results we are now third once again in the table which is important as this means no Champions League play off and also no chance of missing out depending on what happens in Europe. Next up for us is Man City which will be a massive game as it could determine which team finishes third or fourth or even be at risk of missing out with Man United and West Ham close behind.
I think we will finish third but there is still a slight chance of finishing above the team that must not be named who face Chelsea tonight.