The Tuckster on a good if ultimately fruitless performance against Arsenal which was the scene of some terrible officiating…
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in not expecting too much from this trip to The Emirates Stadium before kick off.
Even after last week’s improvement against Swansea – and it was an improvement, this would still be a tough ask.
CH made three changes to the first eleven with Whittaker, Holt and Tettey all coming in. Garrido and Bennett dropped to the bench while Hoolahan was absent – I assume he must’ve been injured, but I haven’t heard for sure.
The Gunners have been on something of a roll lately and started the game brightly. But despite their early possession, City were resilient and disciplined throughout the side.
As I say, City were resilient and made Arsenal work for clear cut chances. Indeed, it wasn’t until the 24th minute that they had their first real chance when Giroud clipped the top of Mark Bunn’s bar with a header from a Sagna cross.
The next chance came to Gervinho who raced onto a lovely Cazorla through ball. Bunn sprinted out to meet him and the Arsenal winger was forced wide, his finish was apalling as his shot went harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Norwich didn’t create much of any real quality in the first half but would’ve been happy for it to be scoreless at half time.
On 57 minutes though it was City that took the lead. They had started the second period with more attacking threat and when Kamara was fouled by Gibbs on the right it was a chance for the dead ball specialist, Robert Snodgrass.
He didn’t have a clear chance to shoot so bent his cross into the box for Michael Turner to rise unchallenged and flick the ball past Fabianski.
As the City support cheered deliriously it was all quiet elsewhere in this lovely stadium.
Throughout the first half, the home fans had shown a level of impatience with their own side that bordered on offensive. Every misplaced pass or chance wasted was met with boos and jeers – unbelievable really.
After seeing their side concede, this lack of support increased. Maybe I’m just used to the support for City at Carrow Road but I can certainly see why Wenger gets such a hard time!
Almost immediately, Arsene had seen enough and made two changes with Walcott replacing Wilshire and Podolski replacing the wasteful Gervinho.
Walcott’s pace caused problems straight away and Whittaker’s clumsy challenge in the area had a few hearts in mouths but he got away with it.
City had a wonderful chance to increase their lead a short time later when Seb Bassong broke from the back and surged over the half way line. His nice pass to Martin allowed the right back to hit a crisp shot albeit straight at Fabianski.
The Gunners then hit the woodwork for a second time when Bunn got fingers to a volley from Podolski in the area. The ball cannoned against the bar and it was a terrific save from close range by Bunn who continues to impress. Luckily he has recovered from the groin strain that forced him off against Swansea last week and no disrespect but we’d all rather see him play instead of Camp.
Despite Arsenal’s rally though, City looked relatively comfortable – until the officials stepped in though.
With just five minutes left on the clock, Arsenal were awarded a corner by linesman, Richard West. It was five yards away from him and clearly wasn’t a corner – it did not come off Snodgrass!
From the resulting corner, Giroud and Kamara tangled and both had hold of each other’s shirts and both went to ground. As the ball was cleared, West held his flag across his chest and referee Jones pointed to the spot.
It was a terrible decision and how he saw it from 40 yards through a crowd of players is unclear, just like his eye sight, I’d suggest. The ref was 10 yards away and didn’t see anything untoward.
Bunn was booked as he argued with West, ably supported by Snodgrass, who’ll argue with anyone.
But seriously, it was poor officiating (again) and to say it was harsh is an understatement.
Bunn almost saved Arteta’s kick but the scores were now level.
Seven minutes later and City were somehow 3-1 down. First, Giroud scored from close range after an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross and then Podolski scored with a powerful left foot strike from the edge of the area.
In the build up to the third, Whittaker was flattened by Giroud and his flick to Walcott was off-side, yet more poor officiating – Mr West didn’t see either of those.
As I said at the start, prior to kick off I didn’t expect a lot but when you’re leading with five mins to go and you’re on the end of bad decision making yet again, it sticks in the throat.
Neil Warnock reckoned that penalty wouldn’t have been given at the other end – for once I agree with him!
Goals change games and that was evident here. It seems unlikely we would’ve conceded three in 5 mins without the officials help.
City played well and in the second half at least, asked attacking questions of their own. Holt didn’t have too much in the way of chances but he put in a shift. As did Jonny Howson, much maligned recently and criticised in this column by yours truly. He had a good game and worked tirelessly.
Snodgrass was as consistent as usual and his delivery led to a goal from Michael Turner who now has three for the season and has been a good buy.
Kamara has been decent mostly, since he arrived and I can see why CH wanted him on the pitch for set pieces etc, but he didn’t effect the game from the right wing enough for my liking.
Mark Bunn had a great game and you need a good keeper when you come here, you also need him to have a good day, and he did.
We have slipped again with some of those around us closing the gap. Next week we have a chance to get three points. I hate the term ‘must win’ but if ever there was, Reading at home is it.
We still have three winable games at home from our remaining five games and it’s all within our hands. But when you see how quickly we got to 25 points (December) then the first three and a half months of this year have not been good enough.
Onwards and upwards, you have to take the positives and Hughton, Calderwood and Trollope will have to lift the lads for next week and point out that this was overall a decent effort.
Come on lads, the big push for next week.