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Norwich City 1 - 0 Arsenal: match report

Arsenal were worse than poor today in a loss at Carrow Road, a first-half Grant Holt goal consigning them to their fate.

Pretty much.
Pretty much.
Richard Heathcote

1 - 0 Grant Holt 20'

Arsenal lost to Norwich City today in what was maybe the worst performance by the team in two years, certainly one of the worst in the Premier League. There's not a whole lot to be said about it, but the team that showed up at Upton Park two weeks ago was nowhere to be seen today. Here's how all the action went down.

The opening ten minutes were pretty inconclusive either way, with Norwich playing two solid and compact banks of four while Wes Hoolahan worked hard to close down Mikel Arteta in possession. Lukas Podolski did have a half chance played through by Olivier Giroud, but he put his shot wide of the far post. Norwich were, in fact, containing Arsenal very well after Podolski's chance, and the Canaries were pressing harder.

And they made it count 20 minutes in. Alexander Tettey was allowed to run and shoot hard from 20 yards, and Vito Mannone could only parry it away into the path of Grant Holt, who outran Per Mertesacker to the rebound and poked it home.

1-0 Norwich, 20 minutes in. Vermaelen tested John Ruddy from a corner a minute later, but the keeper caught the header no problem. After that, it was basically eight minutes of Norwich just watching Arsenal run around to nowhere. Gervinho, in particular, was dawdling for far too long on the wings against a team that was all too happy to form two deep banks of four while he waited to do something on counters. Norwich nearly had a second 34 minutes in as Michael Turner had a free header from a corner but missed the target. Gervinho whiffed entirely as a free kick floated towards him on 38 minutes.

Arsenal, in a word, were poo. There was no movement up front, no gaps created through which to pass, and very little happening to get through the packed Norwich defenders.

Halftime arrived, and Arsene Wenger would have much work to do to spark some kind of pilot light in his Gunners.

The second half began much the same, but 52 minutes in, Jenkinson's cross was palmed into a dangerous spot, but Giroud couldn't acrobatically make contact. 57 minutes, Podolski didn't look up and cross immediately towards two open teammates, but turned away and let Norwich regroup.

It was dire. Giroud headed towards Gervinho, whose header was saved comfortably by Ruddy 63 minutes in. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced the mostly invisible Lukas Podolski 65 minutes in, although it could as easily been Gervinho. More direness from Arsenal ensued.

Michael Turner destroyed Olivier Giroud on 71 minutes just outside the penalty area and earned a yellow; Cazorla's free kick was saved easily by Ruddy. Two minutes later, Grant Holt fired well wide from 25 yards on the counter.

Meanwhile, Chamberlain had hurt his ankle, and had to come off ten minutes after he came on, Andrei Arshavin replacing him. It didn't really matter. Robert Snodgrass came on for Elliott Bennett 79 minutes in.

A minute later, Thomas Vermaelen slipped and nearly gave away a goal, Grant Holt picking up the ball and striding towards goal only to take a hilariously bad effort at a chip over Mannone, which didn't really chip over anything. Cazorla actually took a shot, winning a corner, but Vermaelen headed it well wide.

Serge Gnabry made his debut 82 minutes in, for Aaron Ramsey. Arteta had an effort on 86 minutes, but Ruddy saved it. 90 minutes in, Gervinho finally had space to run onto a through ball, but Sebastien Bassong made a terrific block as Gervinho dawdled again. Gnabry shot over on 94 minutes. Cazorla shot over from 35 yards a minute later, and that was about it.

Game over. Horrible. Norwich's first win of the season, against a team that could have been in fourth.

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