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Match Reports

Norwich City v Arsenal

29 November 2015


NORWICH City held title-chasing Arsenal to a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road - but Alex Neil's team could have taken all three points after a superb second half display.

Mesut Ozil chipped the visitors into a first half lead that they deserved after monopolising the ball in the opening period at Carrow Road.

Lewis Grabban's 43rd-minute equaliser, however, reinvigorated the Canaries - Wes Hoolahan should have put then ahead moments later - and after the break, they went toe-to-toe with the FA Cup holders.

It was Neil's team who looked the most likely to snatch the winner, with Jonny Howson going closest and Petr Cech forced into a top class save from his own defender Gabriel.

Grabban made his first league start since the opening day of the season in one of three changes made by Neil from last Saturday's defeat at Chelsea.

Graham Dorrans and Hoolahan were also recalled as Dieumerci Mbokani, Youssouf Mulumbu and Nathan Redmond dropped to the substitutes' bench.

Arsenal made two alterations from the team that lost 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion last time out in the league, with Aaron Ramsey returning to the starting eleven from injury.

They quickly took control of possession in the opening minutes, and it was Alexis Sanchez who had the game's first shot, zipping an effort wide from 25 yards.

Arsene Wenger's side were dealt an early blow, however, when Laurent Koscielny landed awkwardly while competing with Grabban for the ball, hurting his hip severely enough to warrant a substitution - Gabriel was his replacement.

Ozil should have done better on 17 minutes when he was picked out by Nacho Monreal in the box, but his effort was crucially diverted by the foot of Sebastien Bassong.

Moments later, Olivier Giroud wasted a good chance when Arsenal broke down the left again through Monreal - the French frontman turned the ball wide after scuffing his connection.

On 28 minutes, there appeared to be little danger when Santi Cazorla picked the ball up deep, but following a swift one-two with Ramsey he drove forward and teed up Sanchez, who forced a decent stop from Ruddy.

Two minutes later however, an underhit clearance from the Canaries' goalkeeper cost his team as Arsenal took the lead.

Sanchez jumped at the chance to release Ozil in the left channel, and the World Cup winner finished coolly with a chip over Ruddy to edge his side in front.

City needed to stamp some authority of their own on proceedings, and they could have had a penalty when Hoolahan was bundled over by Mathieu Flamini in the corner of the area.

Robbie Brady was their biggest threat, and it was his pass to Grabban that set up City's leveller two minutes before half-time - the striker turned expertly in the box before slotting his finish beneath Petr Cech.

The crowd were buoyed and they should have had a second goal to celebrate, but Hoolahan spurned a glorious opportunity when he turned Andre Wisdom's pinpoint cross over the bar from close-range in first half stoppage time.

HALF-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal

Arsenal battled to reestablish their dominance at the start of the second half, but they suffered another injury blow when Sanchez hobbled off with a muscle injury on the hour mark.

City soon, however, began to match their more illustrious opponents and fashioned two chances themselves.

The first came from the head of an Arsenal player as Gabriel inadvertently nodded Martin Olsson's cross goalwards, forcing Cech into a fine save down to his left.

From the resultant corner, Bennett nodded the ball down to Jonny Howson, who, on the turn, scooped the ball over Cech's bar.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, the game was in the balance - Arsenal built again through Hector Bellerin down the right, but Giroud's header was off target.

Neil made two late changes to inject energy into the final part of the game - Vadis Odjidja Ofoe and Cameron Jerome on, with the Grabban and Hoolahan replaced.

The hosts looked the most likely to get the game's decisive goal, but in the end the spoils were shared after a thrilling second 45.

FULL-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal

GOALS: Canaries: Lewis Grabban (43) - Gunners: Mesut Ozil (30)

NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Wisdom, Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Howson (Redmond 71), Dorrans, O'Neil (c), Brady; Hoolahan (Odjidja 85); Grabban (Jerome 85). Subs not used: Rudd (GK), Martin, Mbokani, Mulumbu.

ARSENAL: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker (c), Koscielny (Gabriel 11), Monreal; Flamini, Cazorla; Ramsey (Chamberlain 71), Ozil, Sanchez (Campbell 60); Giroud. Subs not used: Ospina (GK), Debuchy, Chambers, Adelaide.

REFEREE: Jonathan Moss


GOLDEN GOAL TIMES: 29:13, 42:20

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