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Match Analysis: Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal

:Headline: Match Analysis: Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal:
Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at the 1-1 draw between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road.
By , Senior Reporter | 3y

Arsenal missed out on the chance to draw level with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table after being held to a 1-1 draw by a spirited Norwich City side.

The Gunners were ahead on the half-hour mark through Mesut Ozil, who continued his fine individual form to capitalise on John Ruddy's poor clearance.

It was all square before the break at Carrow Road, though, as Lewis Grabban fired home from inside the box on his first start since the opening day.

Both sides went in search of a winner in the second period, with Norwich coming closest to finding one when substitute Gabriel Paulista - on for the injured Laurent Koscielny early on - had his header cleared away by Petr Cech to spare his blushes.

There was more bad news to follow for Arsenal, with star performer Alexis Sanchez hobbling down the tunnel with a suspected hamstring injury.

Here, Sport Mole takes an in-depth look at how the 90 minutes of action unfolded in East Anglia.

Match statistics

Shots: 7
On target: 2
Possession: 37%
Corners: 3
Fouls: 8

Shots: 12
On target: 3
Possession: 63%
Corners: 6
Fouls: 6

Was the result fair?

On the balance of the 90 minutes, Arsenal can have no real complaints about the outcome of this match. The Gunners took the surprise decision to fly to Norwich ahead of this game, a flight that lasted around 15 minutes, but in less time than that they had already been handed their first blow of the contest when reliable defender Koscielny limped off with an injury.

More worryingly, Sanchez followed his teammate down the tunnel a little later to see Arsenal's injury crisis deepen, even if they did have Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back in their squad this evening. In the end neither of the returning attacking players, nor the likes of Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, could make a telling difference on proceedings.

It took the visitors 29 minutes to register their first shot on target, which Ruddy did well to turn away, but the England international's howler a few moments later allowed Sanchez and Ozil to link up for the opener. Norwich responded very well, though, themselves scoring from their second shot on target just before the break. The only chance of note in the second half fell the Canaries' way, too, so if any side can feel aggrieved with the final outcome, then it will be the struggling hosts.

Norwich City's performance

With nearly half the match gone this was heading the same way as the narrow defeat to Chelsea last weekend. City remained compact against a side who had not quite hit their top levels, before falling behind through some slack concentration and failing to really impose themselves on the match overall. That all changed when the returning Grabban scored, however, tucking home following some good work by Robbie Brady to prove his manager correct in making the big call up top.

Supporters would have been happy to see the back of the out-of-favour striker prior to the close of last week's emergency loan window, yet he has stuck around and scored one of the biggest goals of his side's season to date. Incredibly, Grabban has now not lost any of his last 23 matches in which he has got his name on the scoresheet, so starting him more regularly could prove to be a good omen.

Norwich may have been compact for large parts of the first half, but they deserve real credit for really getting at their opponents in the second half rather than sitting back - something which we did not see enough of at Stamford Bridge eight days ago. Brady was proving key in every attacking move, getting in one shot and setting up another before cutting Arsenal's defence open with a move that almost ended in Martin Olsson playing in Grabban for a tap-in. City can look back at this showing with real pride, then, having picked up a point which takes them three clear of the drop zone once more.

Arsenal's performance

Having gone through October unbeaten to drag themselves back into title contention, the Gunners' annual sticky spell in November has once more come back to haunt them. Supporters will be delighted to see the back of this month, with a 1.59 points-per-game average their lowest of any during Arsene Wenger's long-running reign. Much like previous matches, too, the writing was very much on the wall for the Gunners long before the full-time whistle sounded.

Like at West Bromwich Albion last weekend, where they eventually lost 2-1, Arsenal let slip a lead when they looked comfortable enough. Unlike at The Hawthorns, they did pick up a point at least which does not really do them all that much good in the grand scheme of things. As well as losing two more key players, adding to a list including Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin, the North London outfit also let their frailties stick out once again.

A bland second-half showing, in which they failed to muster a single shot on goal, makes it two wins in their last seven. Wenger's men may have kept their Champions League hopes just about alive in midweek, beating an extremely poor Dinamo Zagreb side on home soil, yet the chance to get their domestic campaign back on track passed them by here today. The one real positive is that Ozil continued to step up to the plate, scoring in the first half to make it 13 goals that he has directly contributed to in his last 12 league outings, yet the Germany international will now have to do it all on his own thanks to the loss of Sanchez.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Robbie Brady: Grabban and Ozil may have scored the goals, but Brady was the one real standout player on the field. The Irishman contributed at both ends of the pitch, producing one killer pass in particular for his side's goal and also carving the opposition defence apart once more in the second half to play in Olsson. Not the first time he has landed this accolade so far this term, either, so you can expect the transfer links to start soon ahead of the January window.

Biggest gaffe

There is no denying that Ruddy's howler of a clearance, kicking the ball only as far as Gary O'Neil around 45 yards from goal before being intercepted by Sanchez, was the biggest gaffe of the evening. However, special commendation must also go to Gabriel, who allowed Grabban to shrug him off far too easily for the Canaries' only goal before almost heading the ball into his own net later in the game.

Referee performance

Jonathan Moss angered Norwich by awarding a free kick against O'Neil, which ultimately came to nothing in the end, while also feeling the wrath from visiting players when booking Cazorla for simulation. Both minor calls were correct, on what was ultimately a quiet occasion for the man in the middle.

What next?

Norwich City: Alex Neil takes his side to Vicarage Road next weekend, looking to pick up another big result ahead of some very tough fixtures throughout December.

Arsenal: The Gunners play host to a seemingly rejuvenated Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in six days' time, knowing that they simply have to end their three-game run without a win in the top flight.

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