Norwich 1-0 Arsenal

Posted: October 24, 2012 by Pranoy Biswas in Football
Tags: , ,



An intense game ended in disappointment for the Gunners. Grant Holt’s goal from the rebound was enough as the Canaries put on a battling display to hold out Arsenal.

Formations and lineups

Norwich started with a 4-4-1-1 with Wes Hoolahan in behind Grant Holt. Arsenal named their usual lineup with Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker in place of the injured Kieron Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny.

Norwich Tactics

The Canaries started brightly and pressed the Arsenal midfield forcing them into errors and conceding possession. Once the ball was won their passing was quick and direct and launched fast counters, although they were dealt with comfortably by the Gunner’s defence.

Norwich’s industry bore fruit when Grant Holt netted in the rebound on the 19th minute after a long range shot. Andre Santos was guilty of staying behind the line and rendering the offside trap useless which allowed the advantage Holt needed to outrun Mertesacker. It’s become a common trend to witness full-backs in a wayward position undermining the offside trap.

After the goal, Norwich camped in their own half with Hoolahan dropping deep and making the Canaries shape more like a 4-5-1 with Holt on his own. They were careful though of not giving the Arsenal midfield maestros any time on the ball. They accomplished this by staying deep and only pressing the midfield when they reached an advanced position.

Arsenal’s response

With space so limited in the middle, the play was spread wide and the only way Arsenal tried to pierce through the  Norwich defence were through crosses with Oliver Giroud the favourite target. This didn’t work as the French striker was usually well marked by the centre-backs and his influence upon the game was minimal.

One way to unlock such teams are for the midfielders to provide driving runs from deep. The player we missed most in this game wasn’t RVP, it was Diaby, someone whose powerful runs are vital for the team.

Santi Cazorla, the man entrusted with the responsibility of providing creativity, was mostly too deep in search of possession and the intense pressing from the opponents meant he couldn’t get forward enough to provide through balls or try his accurate long range shots.

Arsene Wenger brought on Oxlade-Chamberlain in place of Podolski who had an average game to provide more pace in Arsenal’s play. This move did not work as The Ox hobbled off to be replaced by Arshavin. It was too much expect from the Russian, who hasn’t started many games and thrust right into such an intense midfield battle and he didn’t influence the game much.

Apart from a late long-range strike from Arteta, Arsenal did not have many attempts on goal and Norwich held on comfortably to register a creditable win


While the goal can be forgiven, Arsenal’s lack of penetration and their slow build-up play contributed to a very frustrating display. This is the third game this season where the Gunners have been shunted out by a deep-lying defence and their lack of ability to withstand heavy pressure in the midfield was particularly worrying. It’s still early in the season and the defence looked largely comfortable against the quick Norwich counters. A solid defence is always a good foundation to build a season on.

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