Writer: The Tuckster
Date:Sunday October 20 2013
This was always going to be a difficult game, particularly when the hosts have been in such imperious form of late. But that didn't mean that this was a foregone conclusion - City have provided evidence in the previous two games that they may be getting it together and have given Arsenal a game in our four meetings since returning to the Premier League. Indeed, so far we have kept more clean sheets than the Gunners this term - We've got a few less points though.
As usual with a Chris Hughton side, it almost picks itself when performances have been decent enough of late. The only real surprise was the inclusion of Gary Hooper, starting his first Premier League game in place of the injured Ricky van Wolfswinkel, while Anthony Pilkington recovered from the hamstring strain he picked up while away with Ireland.
Both sides have had a number of their squads away on International duty and there is always a question over how this will affect the team overall. Both sides were a little lethargic in the early stages but this seemed to affect Arsenal more than City, initially anyway.
It took just eighteen minutes though before Arsenal scored, what in my opinion is likely to be the goal of the season.
Now, I know this is Vital Norwich and not Vital Arsenal but the goal that Jack Wilshire scored was exquisite. He picked up the ball in his own half and then fed Gibbs on the left who then slid it to Cazorla. By now, Wilshire was on the edge of the City area as he received the ball from the Spaniard.
He flicked it to Giroud who then flicked it forwards and back to him and Wilshire then simply stroked it in the net from 8 yards out. It was terrific,sometimes you just have to hold your hands up.
But City didn't lie down and then played some nice football of their own in the last third of the half. They had plenty of possession and stroked the ball about very well with the best moment coming as Fer hit a dipping 20 yard shot that Szczesny brilliantly tipped away.
At one nil at half time and having finished the half so strongly, it seemed positive enough as that continued in the first period of the second half.
Snodgrass hit a weak shot that he should've passed to Pilkington and Russell Martin spanked the ball over when well placed after a free-kick, but the signs were all good.
That was until Arsenal doubled their lead on 58 minutes. Another nice piece of football saw Giroud receive the ball on the right and clip a cross into the box. Ozil was racing forward and nipped in between Turner and Martin to head past Ruddy - a goal that should've have been avoided but wasn't because of indecisive defending.
It now looked all over although Norwich did keep going. Their reward came in the 70th minute when Mertesacker made a hash of a low Olsson cross that he spooned to Howson in the box.
Johnny controlled it on his chest and waited for the ball to drop before hitting a great low shot into the bottom corner - game on.
As usual, there have been moans about Chris Hughton's use of substitutions here. I don't think anyone can complain though, honestly. With 20 minutes to go, we're back in the game and, quite rightly to my mind, Hughton went for it by replacing Tettey and Pilks with Hoolahan and Redmond.
He was trying to get another goal back and what else would any of us done at that exact moment in time? These are the decisions a manager has to make on the spot - easy enough in hindsight.
But it didn't work out and man of the moment, Aaron Ramsey scored a terrific third, albeit with more help from the City defence. Our boys stood off him a bit before he drove into the area and sent both Martin and Bassong sliding by him as he pulled a couple of cut backs and then smashed the ball past Ruddy from close range.
Ozil capped it off with a fourth at the end after a Rosicky cross was laid off to the little German who stroked the ball home from close range.
In truth, City played okay here. Arsenal were fantastic (I don't use the word lightly) at times but we were able to get at them and had a fair bit of possession of our own. We had shots but tellingly, Gary Hooper was as isolated as RvW has been and had no chances to speak of. The England manager was watching and John Ruddy had a fine game, making a number of top saves and having little chance with the goals that he conceded.
The formation was the same as the hosts but Giroud was far more involved than Hooper.
As we all know though, our season will not be defined by trips to places like this. Next week against Cardiff will be the sort of game that will provide our future.
Having lost four of the last five, Hughton is rightly under pressure (again) but with the last two defeats having been against Chelsea and Arsenal, he is highly likely to get much more time yet to get things right.
I'm trying to keep positive and suggest to you that there have been signs of improvement but as I mentioned earlier, the lack of chances being created for our strikers is of major concern to me.
Date:Sunday October 20 2013
Rangel Could Return To Face City (Friday December 13 2013)
City Youth Must Travel Again (Friday December 13 2013)
Bassong Signs New Deal (Thursday December 12 2013)
Neil Adams: We Weren't Good Enough For 90 Mins (Thursday December 12 2013)
Ghana Defender On The Horizon? (Thursday December 12 2013)
City Youth Score Six In Cup Rout (Thursday December 12 2013)
FA Cup Date Set (Thursday December 12 2013)
City Set To Sign Teenage Striker (Thursday December 12 2013)
Becchio Is Also In Demand (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Fer In Demand (Tuesday December 10 2013)
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