REPORT - ARSENAL 3-1 CITY
A CONTROVERSIAL ending to the game saw the Canaries on the wrong end of 3-1 defeat at the Emirates against Champions League-chasing Arsenal.
The Canaries had been disciplined in their defending to see them go in to the break at 0-0, Olivier Giroud coming the closest for The Gunners in the first half when he hit the City bar with a header.
But City's hard work looked to have paid off when the Canaries went ahead on 57 minutes after Michael Turner powered home a Robert Snodgrass free-kick. And the visitors continued to frustrate their hosts with dogged defending and a threat on the break. But the game was to turn against the Canaries with six minutes to play when Arsenal were awarded a penalty kick - the assistant referee adjudging Kei Kamara pulled Giroud's shirt while defending a corner - Mikel Arteta stepping up to equalise for The Gunners from the spot.
And the equaliser gave them the incentive they needed to push onwards for the win, substitutes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski heavily involved - the England international with the all-important cross which was turned in by Giroud for 2-1. And the German striker's turn and shot which ultimately secured the points in injury time.
City boss Chris Hughton summed up the Canaries disappointment: "We will always analyse the game and try and take the positives from the game. We can gain a lot from today.
"Sometimes a sense of grievance can give extra motivation to a group of lads like ours, and we have a big game next weekend. My grievance is that there's a linesman who's 50 yards away who's made the decision.
"Meanwhile, the referee is only ten yards away and hasn't given it. The third goal was offside too."
The City manager made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Swansea. In came Steven Whittaker in to the defence replacing Javi Garrido at left-back. Alex Tettey made a return to midfield having made a cameo appearance the previous Saturday, his first start since recovering from a knee injury. City captain Grant Holt was also named up front with the Canaries starting in a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation - Kei Kamara and Robert Snodgrass supporting from midfield. Mark Bunn had also recovered in time from the groin inury which had seen him susbstituted in the previous game to start at The Emirates.
With Per Mertesacker suspended Arsene Wenger named Koscielny and Vermaelen in defence. Jack Wilshere started with Theo Walcott on the bench.
Arsenal won a corner in the opening minute but Cazorla's delivey was easily defended by Johnson and then Holt cleared the City lines.
A bright spell followed for the visitors with Whittaker finding space on the left and linking with his midfielders for some good possession in the Arsenal half.
The Gunners were also looking lively with Ramsey and Wilshere looking to pick a hole in the City defence to release Gervinho but the Canaries were holding firm and were looking to be positive on
On 15 minutes Wilshere looked to have got in behind the Canaries but he was deemed offside as his effort looped over the bar.
Five minutes later and Bunn had to be alert to claim the ball as Wilshere dinked a ball in for for Ramsey to run on to - the City 'keeper just getting there first before the Welshman.
The Canaries pushed forward themselves but Kamara's cross from the right was intercepted by Arteta and deflected off Jonny Howson's hand for a free-kick to the hosts in their penalty area.
Arsenal came close to opening the scoring on 23 minutes when Giroud glanced a header off the bar from a Sagna cross.
Turner recovered from an initial slip to get back and put in a great tackle to prevent Gervinho a shot on goal.
A minute later and the Ivorian had another great opportunity when he was released by Cazorla through on goal, Bunn rushed out and drove him wide and with a tight angle he placed his shot
across the face of the goal.
The Gunners were turning up the pressure -this time Sagna pushing forward and putting in a ball for Giroud, but Bunn was in the right place to block the Frenchman's effort.
Bacary Sagna received the first yellow card of the game for a block on Snodgrass which prevented the Scot escaping him down the touchline.
With 10 minutes of the half left the Canaries won their first corner of the game but it was well defended by The Gunners.
On 39 minutes Cazorla had a dig from just outside the area but Bunn was behind it and made a comfortable claim.
City had another good move down the left which saw Johnson find Whittaker and the Scot's delivery in to the box required an Arsenal head to knock clear. The Canaries followed up and again Whittaker
looked to attack the ball but this time the offside flag was raised to give Arsenal possession back.
Just inside the two minutes of injury time Arsenal were awarded a free-kick which was headed away by Kamara. From the corner Giroud's header was denied by a good interception from Whittaker.
Half-time: Arsenal 0, Norwich City 0
Five minutes in and a Snodgrass corner was met by Bassong's header but Arsenal did just enough to clear with Turner trying to dig it out in the six-yard box.
There was a mad scramble in City's penalty area on 54 minutes with bodies flying in all over the place and the ball pinging about, but the Canaries managed to see the danger away. In amongst it a
penalty shout went up from Arsenal but it would have been a tough call aganst Turner who blocked the ball, but Wilshere hit it straight at him.
On 57 minutes the Canaries were awarded a free kick when Gibbs clipped Kamara on the right. Snodgrass'left-footed delivery was met wonderfully by Turner who headed the Canaries into a 1-0 lead to
send the 3,000 strong Yellow Army behind the goal in to raptures.
On the hour Wenger made two substitutions - Wishere and Gervinho replaced by Walcott and Podolski. Two minutes later and Chris Hughton was foced into a change with Johnson having picked up a knock
David Fox came on in midfield.
The Canaries had another set-piece opportunity but this time Snodgrass' central free-kick found Holt in an offside position as he looked to stretch to connect.
With 20 minutes to go Sagna put in a good delivery from the right and although the ball came across the penalty area and dropped to the feet of Podolski the ball hit the German and out for a goal
Three minutes later a great break from his own penalty area saw Seb Bassong push forward in to the Arsenal half and lay the ball out to Russell Martin who'd burst down the right flank but the
defender hit his shot straight at Fabianski.
Frustration was ringing out at The Emirates as City remained resolute under Arsenal pressure.
The Gunners hit the City woodwork again this time through Podolski with 12 minutes to go, the German picking up Giroud's chestdown and Bunn getting enough on his shot to tip it on to the underside
of the bar and away.
A final substitution for Arsenal saw Sagna come off for Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain on 81 minutes.
However, there was late drama as Arsenal were awarded a penalty in the 84th minute - Kei Kamara was adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Giroud in a scramble to get the ball away - a decision made by the assistant referee to the dismay of the Canaries. Mark Bunn was booked for protesting but Mikel Arteta stepped up and although the Canary keeper got a hand to the ball he couldn't prevent the Spaniard equalising.
And unfortunately it gave The Gunners a massive lift going in to the final minutes of the game - City now being put under increasing pressure and that pressure told with two minutes of normal time to play. Substitute Oxlaide-Chamberlain bursting down the left and to the byline to pull the ball across for it to be poked home by Giroud.
But with sense of injustice in the air the Canaries didn't give up and broke again in the 90th minute, the ball falling for Howson to strike home but Fabianski was in the right place to deny the City midfielder.
With six minutes of injury time announced Hughton threw on Simeon Jackson for Tettey.
Again City tried to respond this time winning another corner, Russell Martin rising to meet Snodgrass' delivery but although on target the Arsenal stopper was on hand again.
The game had opened up and this time it was Arsenal's turn to attack Bunn pulling off another good stop to deny Giroud but he could do nothing to deny the hosts a third goal in stoppage time
Although Theo Walcott looked offside in the build up he pushed down the wing to cross and Podolski was found in the D< the German turned brilliantly and placed a well-struck shot in to the bottom corner to secure the win for Arsenal and condem City to an underserved defeat.
Final score: Arsenal 3, Norwich City 1
ARSENAL: Fabianski, Sagna (Oxaide-Chamberlain 81), Vermaelen, Koscielny, Arteta, Wilshere (Walcott 60), Giroud, Ramsey, Cazorla, Gervinho (Podolski 60), Gibbs. Subs not used: Monreal, Coquelin, Mannone, Jenkinson.
CITY: Bunn, Martin, Whittaker, Johnson (Fox 62), Bassong, Turner, Snodgrass, Howson, Holt (c), Kamara, Tettey (Jackson 90). Subs not used: E. Bennett, Garrido, Becchio, R. Bennett, Camp.