Norwich 1 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

I doubt many will be in a mood to read too many words after that performance. What else can one say after even Arsene Wenger puts excuses to one side and says, “We were well below par today.”

There were no real surprises in the game. Norwich set out to defend – they ended the game with 28 percent possession – and did a virtually impeccable job of keeping things compact in front of their goal. Arsenal had what Wenger called, “illusionary domination.”

The Gunners have struggled against deep-lying teams that deny them space in front of the goal all through the season. The forward players just haven’t been able to combine effectively to produce high-quality chances on a consistent basis. This game was just more of the same.

Some people have correctly observed that Arsenal lacked the right tempo or speed of passing. But it should be mentioned that tempo just doesn’t materialize out of thin air. Quick, purposeful passing in the final third relies intrinsically on exceptional off-the-ball movement and instinctive understanding between players.

Losing is never enjoyable but it can be excused if the team creates enough chances, hits the bar, suffers from refereeing blunders, or in any way shows that it deserved something. In this game there just wasn’t anything.

If at all, Norwich were probably guilty of wasting the better chances and the scoreline flattered the Gunners! It’s very important to note the fact that the hosts wasted a number of very high quality opportunities (they were dangerous moments even if they didn’t force a big save) because it again illustrates the point that all teams have to create multiple threats at the opponents goal in order to score one or two goals. Arsenal just haven’t done that often enough and this game was the worst of the season thus far.

The goal that Arsenal conceded at the other end was again a result of multiple errors. I have mentioned the risk of dropping so deep in front of one’s own goal, essentially ceding territory and inviting pressure. That’s like doing half the opponents work for them. Of course, Norwich did that all through the game but they came prepared for that and that ability is vital to their survival. But the Gunners are used to attacking and are prone to concentration or structural errors when dropping so deep.

You can’t allow an opponent to shoot from that range without any kind of pressure. The goalkeeper just has to do better than palming the ball back in front of goal and he has to quickly get in position to make the second save. The back four also have to hold a very steady line when dropping deep. In this instance the full-backs, Santos in particular, seemed too deep and played the goalscorer onside.

Too many mistakes, one gifted goal. What else is new?!

I did like the fact that Arsenal tried harder in the second half. Towards the end the Gunners did manage to create some openings even if they weren’t enough. There were some plays that can be worked on to develop alternate attacking options.

For instance, late in the game there were a couple of high balls played towards Giroud who cushioned it into the path of a teammate. Gervinho headed one towards goal while Gnabry fluffed his shot. The Gunners can do better if they find a way to use the Frenchman’s abilities to their advantage through precise aerial chips rather than hopeful, aimless crosses.

Anyway, these aren’t new issues so I don’t want to dwell on them. There are obvious limitations in the current squad and the system being developed this season. Some teams have found a way to neutralize Arsenal and expose various chinks at the back. We just have to see whether the Gunners can raise their game soon enough…

Individual Performances:

Mannone: Poor for the goal, had very little to do otherwise.

Jenkinson: Another hardworking shift from the youngster. Crosses and link play in the final third was disappointing but he did OK in the central and defensive third. Needs to take care of the ball better though.

Mertesacker: Not sure if he can be blamed for a slow reaction to Holt as the striker had a yard or two on him. Did slip up once around the centre line that allowed Holt a run towards goal but was otherwise fairly steady. Don’t know if anyone can claim he was great at “organizing” the defence.

Vermaelen: Struggled against Holt from long balls. Did a decent job of defending on the ground. Can’t really be blamed for the goal. Did give away the ball once around the centre line that led to a dangerous situation. Couldn’t contribute in the opposition box.

Santos: Poor positioning in the build-up to the goal, wasn’t able to offer as much of an attacking threat as Gibbs does but that is also linked to time spent on the pitch so it seems a tad early to criticize him for that.

The back five weren’t up against an extraordinary attack and much better is needed.

Arteta: He was given the task of getting in front of Holt for long balls. Thought he did alright although one or two of his headers did go behind to an attacking player. Other than that it was another superb game from the Spaniard. Was clearly trying to drive the team forward in the second half and was responsible for a shot on target, for finding Giroud with a chipped pass that led to a chance, and some other semi-creative moments that Arsenal produced. But at the end of the  day I felt he’s having to do too much.

Cazorla: Had many excellent individual moments, like the time he just let the ball roll to get into space behind Johnson. Was able to hold possession under pressure and was constantly looking to create something in the final third but his understanding with the front three wasn’t up to scratch and he was often let down by his teammates. Set-pieces were poor.

Ramsey: Disappointing game from the Welshman. Once again it seemed he was trying to do too much instead of keeping it simple and quick. Such attempts also took him high up the pitch often which forced Cazorla deeper. In short, can’t fault his effort but he didn’t play in a way that would have made the system work efficiently.

The midfield wasn’t efficient or incisive with the ball. They didn’t do a good enough job of closing down space for the shot that led to the goal.

Gervinho: Has been disappointing on the right even more than he’s been frustrating through the middle. The fact that he’s still starting over Oxlade-Chamberlain, or anyone else, seems a worrying indictment of Arsenal’s lack of depth. Off-the-ball movement was predictable, ran into dead ends or crowds with the ball. Did get to the by-line on one or two occasions but that’s just not enough at this level. Wasted a great opening that Gnabry created with a precise through-ball.

Giroud: Looked good when the ball came to him in or around the box but that didn’t happen often enough. Wasted a couple of promising moments through ambitious attempts like the overhead kick in the 52nd minute or the mis-kick in the 83rd minute when he had time. Has to come to the ball more often when it’s not coming to him. Has to develop a precise first touch to link play in tight areas.

Podolski: He seems to become ineffective when the opponents block central areas where he likes to drift into. Doesn’t offer a serious threat from the wider positions. Did have an early shot that flashed wide, Arsenal have to find a way to get him into scoring positions more often as he’s the most natural goalscorer in the side.

All the three forwards have their own set of limitations and in some games all of those are exposed at the same time to make Arsenal look toothless.

Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain made one ambitious run before picking up an inury. Arshavin was trying but he’s been out of first-team action for too long and is not at his best on the right flank. Was glad to see Gnabry get his Premier League debut and he did play one delightful through-ball for Gervinho but his introduction does make me wonder about the depth that Arsenal have.

Wenger: He knows this just isn’t good enough. Question is, how soon can he get the team back on track?

32 Responses to Norwich 1 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. @Adkdukes says:

    Our limited creativity in the final 3rd is really worrisome aside Cazorla our only creative berth comes from wing play where the players have been very inneffective. I bliv as good as we think some of our players are, one can easily be forgiven if u say some are overrated! If we can’t win our winnable matches I wonder how we can keep on being deceived as been good enought to win the title. Most annoying is the consistency at which we tend to end the bad runs of oppossing clubs. Personally, I have to drop my expectations for the club for now and see how things develop

  2. GUN says:

    Not impressed with Caorla’s corner kicks. Arteta’s corner looked more dangerous.
    Also we are depending too much on Cazorla.

  3. Jujune says: of the match,you for even having the courage to write.please sleep it up and dont spoil my sunday.

  4. Mahmoud says:

    Arsene Wenger why are you not taking adventage when ever you get a change you are not utalizing it, once again you have get natural striker in junuary

  5. Jeff says:

    forgive me to say this,but clearly aaron ramsey is not as good as he think he is.. back to his old best?? hhmm.. totally agree w desi though, ramsey often makes unnecessary run which force cazorla to stay or even sit deeper, SPOT on desi!!! IMO,the midfield looked terrible ever since d absence of Diaby.. clearly,ramsey doesnt win enough ball n has less to offer offensively.. i was only impressed once by his performance so far this season.. not outstanding though,just one of his best..

    • ademola says:

      Arshavin in the play making position is not risky if there is Jack and Arteta behind him, remember we defend now as a team and not as an individual…moreover, both santi and podi will always support the full backs.

      • santori says:

        Arsharvin behind the main striker with Podolski and Santi flanking (with interchange of positions) could be doable but it will probably need someone (less creative) but more robust behind next to Arteta. Coquelin over Ramsey.

        No surprise since we have lost Diaby (predicatbly) that we are more vulnerable during set pieces and also lack verve going forward.

        begs the question (again) why we did not talk tough and hold Song for another season.

    • ademola says:

      Yes I agree with you that ramsey is not as good as he or the manager thinks he is…needless flicks, needless runs, holds on to possesion for too long trying to do a cesc or xavi… I think we really need a defensive midfileder and perhaps let arteta be the Box to Box midfielder.

  6. danish gooner says:

    There are no more excuses for a large part of the players,certainly no excuses for Wenger and the board can do one to.

  7. tuneric says:

    Thanks for writing anywayz, you should have analysed the players and manager only. The write up about the game is just like the game itself(disappointing). How long do we go on with this? Breaking up above average defences. 1st I ain’t happy reading from the Desi heart.

    • santori says:

      Brave to write anything. Worthless match from our point of view.

      To think we are only 3 points ahead of Liverpool who have had a supposed ‘torrid’ time starting off Mr. Rodger’s dynasty.

  8. JB212 says:

    Yesterday’s performance was bloody ridiculous.

    The Arsenal team as a whole probably get paid 10 times more than the Norwich team, but you couldn’t tell, Norwich just looked the better team and were definitely more hungry for it.

    The back four weren’t too too bad in my opinion, Santos shouldn’t have a ton of bricks fall on him, purely because of his lack of playing time. His tackling is better than Gibbs, but Gibbs positionally is better then him and more dynamic yet doesn’t have his technique on the ball. Meeh

    Looking at the bench and then reading the comments Wenger made about having the best midfield in England was just a slap in the face. We could have Ronaldo and Messi in our team and be injured for the whole season yet Wenger would say we will win the Prem because of them -_-

    Wenger needs to go back to the drawing board with his tactics and his selection.

    1. Do not start Gervinho on the right, he isn’t Walcott, he’s only effective when he can cut in and dribble using his right foot MEANING play him through the middle or on the left, NEVER on the right.

    2. Do not start gervinho on the right, especially if Giroud is playing as he just doesn’t cross, not that kind of player.

    3. Get some interchanging between our two wide men for goodness sake. Have them both cut in on their stronger side must amount to something better then what they did today.

    4. Bring back Miyaichi and let Gnarby play more as well. We only have Walcott, Gervinho, (Chamberlain who I prefer on the left or through the middle) and Podolski (Who I prefer through the middle). Miyaichi and Gnarby clearly couldn’t do much worse then Gervinho and Podolski did yesterday.

    5. Ensure that Cazorla gets a rest when Rosicky, Wilshere and Diaby come back or even use him out wide now and then to accommodate someone else into the tip of our triangle ….. Arshavin perhaps ?

    6. Against teams that park their 7.5 tonne lorry, use a playmaker out wide, like we used to do last season with Benayoun, this season that could be Rosicky or Cazorla, it would give us a different dimension and help unlock and create spaces through intricate passes which Gervinho and Walcott don’t seem to be able to do.

    7. MAKE US WIN FOR F**K SAKE !!!

  9. TizTeezy says:

    Nice one there @ Tuneric. Santos is a midfield kind of a left back, while Gibbs is more of a Winger. Also, gervinho on d left flank proves more effective. Against shakle on wednesday, I would luv to see Mannone, koscielny and Per in central defense, Jenkinson, and Vermaelen on d right and left full backs(if Gibbs is out). Arteta, Coquelin(wilshere) and Cazorla in midfield. Gervinho and Arshavin(Ramsey)-if Oxlade is out* on the left and right wings respectively, and then Podolski(Giroud) up front….COYG!!!!

  10. ademola says:

    It is now very obvious that a front three of gervinho, podolski,giroud can’t gel..gervinho will never bring out the best out of giroud, we need a creative midfielder/winger in that right hand side of the attack, one who can dribble, cross, run, skillful and also score a goal if the chance arrives. This player is not gervinho and never will be.

    As for Ramsey, I still don’t think he is good enough to play in arsenal, what has arsenal turned to? A feeder team to bigger teams, I hate to admit it but I think it’s the truth… Gone are the days of our own galaticos, our invincibles, just compare a striking force of giroud,gervinho,podolski with henry, berkamp and kanu

    And lastly it’s time to give arshavin a run of games, that lad is so unlucky and never really played in his preferred position, time to shift cazorla to the right hand side and let arshavin play through the middle. Vermaelen at left back in place of santos,

    Szeczny/ Manonne





    • Jeff says:

      i am as well tempted to play arshavin in the playmaker role which means santi on the right,but it could be too risky IMO. for all we know,arshavin doesnt have the best of work rate n not as good as santi,jack or rosicky defensively..

      • santori says:

        Santi and Arsharvin can switch within the game.

        The thing about playing Andrei in the middle is that the midfield behind him will have to be alert to pick up any pieces.

        Therefore Coquelin is preferable to Ramsey IMO. We’ll need his aggression.

  11. Jeff says:

    we need plan B up front,but we obviously need to wait for jack n rosicky to comeback.. currently,arshavin is available should we need another playmaker.. but he couldnt really play in the playmaker position as he’s defensively not good enough,thus make it difficult for wenger to push santi out wide. ramsey? not good enough to play in the playmaker pos,lacks creativity n technique,he’s not bad out wide as he has def good workrate,but clueless if not terrible as CM.

  12. The Tactician says:

    Hi Desi, All,

    I am surprised why the Coaching staff does not look at how goals are scored against defensive minded teams by other top teams.

    The way I see it, when the 10-man bus is parked in front, goals come mainly from:

    a) corners
    b) set pieces
    c) penalties

    When we look at the number of corners and free kicks we get, why cant we even have a decent goal attempt from these?

    Why there is no panic in the opppostion box (which could lead to an own or scrappy goal) when an Arsenal player takes a corner or set piece?

    Why cant any of our talented players get into the box with their dribbling skills which will most certainly invite a tackle?

    I think against teams which would only defend and counter, if we focus on a strategy to get the first goal somehow working on the above possibilities, our problem will be resolved. Once a goal goes in, the parked bus has to move and then floodgates will open…

    Pls share your thoughts on this.

    Cheers 🙂

  13. What is Ramsey doing? says:

    Can someone tell me what Is Ramsey’s role? I also feel that Vermaelen did not do much to stop the initial shot by Teettey. He just moved out of the way, and did not offer an challenge or attempt to get in front. He is getting lazy. The first year efforts have slowly faded and now he is making careless mistake. A game like this would have been perfect for Song making his wild runs forward or trying to give the killer pass. Oh well, that is not a reality anymore. I guess im more concerned about the so called “half time” talk. What the hell was talked about? The side played the same way as the first half. Wenger is soft, and his motivational skills need are terrible. Jenkinson played ok, but looks to cross the ball every chance. Giroud has not shown much in the department. Jenks needs to get into the box and square the ball away or take shots himself. Very one sided offense from him.

    • santori says:

      It is not that Ramsey is lazy.

      In general he has played with more purpose and has good creativity going forward for us.

      But to me, he still lacks that added gumption/edge which will truly propel him to the next level. he’s still young so that may come yet.

      We don’t have much choice at the moment. Coquelin is better defensively IMO but maybe a bit less creative.

      Neither are the full article and we can’t really blame them or inhibit them by freezing them out.

      But it would be great at this juncture if the younger players are a bit lost if we had someone like Song in the arsenal to throw on.

      this bearing in mind as both Jack and Diaby are still on injury issues.

      If we lose Arteta, we will see the current situation comounded further. We are that vulnerable at the moment. Touch a very large tree.

  14. edu says:

    How did Ramsey perform?

  15. Nick from Portugal says:

    Thanks Desi. As I wrote yesterday “a tough one” and so it proved. Cazorla needs a rest, Ramsey needs to start playing two touch not five touch football, Santos a dream boat again as mentioned yesterday. Schalke will be tough, I think it is time for Arshavin through the middle put Cazorla on the bench, it is embarrasing how dependent we are on him. Get Gervinho back in the middle or give him freedom to roam, I liked the boy who came on a lot. Jack back for QPR at least 60 minutes and then…United.

  16. amahgfur says:

    The reaction from some fans here is quite unbelievable. It’s clear that we didn’t deserve to win the game because we were lackluster and didn’t move well enough in the final third to open Norwich defense. But It should be as simple as that and let’s move on to the next game. Why start judging/blaming particular players?

    I believe we’re excited by this team after the performances against Liverpool, City and even Chelsea. And now after we lost to Norwich, we suddenly lost our excitement and belief in this team?

    The injury curse has started with Diaby, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Walcott, Szcz, Fabianski, are all out. It’s bound to affect the team performance because AW couldn’t make the subs he would’ve wanted/needed.

    • jeff wright says:

      Would Koscielny even have played were he fit? I doubt it after his recent performances for us and France. I don’t think that we miss Fabianski or Scz either. It’s true that Mannone should have done better on the shot that he spilled that led to the Norwich goal – but it was 135 mph Santos that was caught napping and who played Holt onside when he failed to step forward in line with our other defenders – this giving Holt the chance for his tap-in.
      We missed an on song Walcott – but he’s not exactly Mr Reliable and you never how he will perform – fit or otherwise.
      Diaby ? Well again a player who is inconsistent – and that is in the same game – apart from being injury prone.
      The player that we do miss is now at United and he carried the team on his back last season. He even scored the two goals in our 2-1 win at Norwich – that’s the difference between winning 2-1 , or losing 1-0 .

  17. santori says:

    I think some home truths are coming back to roost for us.

    Wenger has bought well in the transfer market but he has bought (as always) 3 players short. Plus we have missed the continuity that one of the two high performing players we have let go could have privided for us. Walcott is still around but on the periphery.

    1) Keeper. We said this in the summer. Szsc needed preferably an experience keeper to push his spot.

    2) Midfield. Arteta may have benefited from the interlull but he will be on many games this season. Coquelin (and Ramsey) are both promising but neither have the complete repetoire as yet. What price calling song’s bluff, holding him another season and making sure we had the depth in the engine room (bearing in mind Diaby’s penchant for injury and Jack’s road to recovery)?

    3) Striker.. I believe Wenger reisisted bringing in a striker in the summer because

    a) There wasn’t good value at that point
    b) The presence of peripheral players holding up the wage structure like Chamakh.

    I can see him strongly considering a dip into the market in Jan in this position (proviso we are still in the hunt).

    BUT holding Walcott was a mistake. He should have let him go in the summer for a better price and we could well do with one more creative/technical influence out wide to complement Santi. Someone like Konoplyanka or Affelay (who eventually went to Schalke on loan) would have given us some choice. As good as Gnabry is (and he is very good), he is still extremely green (as is Ryo).

    We only have ourselves to blame as usual. Meanwhile, Chelsea (and City, United) are pulling away. It may be early in the season yet but at the 10 game marker, you get a good idea how competitive we will be this season. I’m afraid to say we are but 3 points ahead of Mr Rodger’s calamity project at Liverpool. Being that this season is likely to be decided (title race) with finer margins yet, we are NOT at the races.

  18. Phil23 says:

    What is so frustrating about this loss is that it was kind of predictable. Before the game we all new that Norwich were not going to press, but sit deep instead. So why did we not field a team that is quick on the break? I have seen it many times with Walcott as well. A pacey winger is never going to thrive when he has no space to run into. As Desi said about Podolski, an inside forward isn’t going to thrive when he has no space to run into. These are tactical mistakes and often make the players look bad.
    The solution has been mentioned by previous posters. A combination of improving set pieces and playing with a wide playmaker are vital. We are STILL missing a Nasri replacement. Seeing Hazard go to Chelsea is so frustrating it hurts. He is the exact player that would have turned us into a world beating side. People need to stop talking about buying a striker in January, we have 4! (Giroud, Podolski, Gervinho, Walcott) How many wide playmaker’s do we have? (that’s someone with a combination of technical ability and pace) On my count we have Cazorla and some would say the ox. My problem with these two is that Cazorla loves playing central and nobody can really replicate what he does yet. The ox just doesn’t yet have the vision i’d like to see from a wide playmaker. Last year we had a makeshift in Beneyoun and he wasn’t in the class we wanted. All in all, we need a new wide playmaker in January, not a Striker.
    I believe that Arsene’s long term plan for this season is to have a starting eleven that looks like this:
    ~~~~~~~ Giroud
    Podolski Wilshere Cazorla
    ~~~~Arteta ~~ Diaby
    Gibbs Verm Mert Sagna
    ~~~~~~ Szczesny

    This is a very strong first team with a lot of pace to come off the bench. If we could play this team every game this season the title would probably be ours. Sadly, this is not and could not have possibly happened. Diaby and Wilshere were never going to last the season. If we had a class wide playmaker, Cazorla would play in his preferred position while Diaby and Wilshere would have less pressure on their shoulders being able to rotate with each other. Having Diaby as a key player in your squad is a disaster that constantly happens! Imo having a wide playmaker would once again, make us the most creative team in the Prem. (currently Chelsea) Imagine the difference against teams that park the bus with a line up like this:
    ~~~~~~~ Giroud
    ~~Poldi Cazorla Gotze*
    Gibbs Verm Mert Sagna
    ~~~~~~ Szczesny

    *He is the best fit I can think of but I am aware it is not a likely transfer.

    It doesn’t really matter what name is out wide, as long as they have the skill. As you can see, we would have two players who are natural finishers (watch a Giroud highlight clip if you disagree) as well as a wide, advanced and deep lying playmaker. Arteta would not be playing as a playmaker but he is surely the most technical defensive midfielder in the prem? We are only one player away from being one of the elite teams in Europe. Sadly, that one player difference takes us out of the title race and leaves us looking to secure 4th spot this season. Take away Hazard from Chelsea and they are pretty much the same team that came 6th last season. Now they are 10 points clear of us after 8 games. Lets hope that Arsene finds the perfect player in January, otherwise we are going to have to wait until next summer, Something that all Arsenal fans are sick to death of hearing!

    Sorry for the extremely long post. Still reading your blog very regularly Desi! I can see that you are getting frustrated at having to write the same things over and over. This system is much better than the last few though. All we need is one more class player. The return of Cesc anyone? :p we can all dream…
    ~~~~~~~~ Giroud
    ~Podolski Fabregas Cazorla
    Gibbs Vermaelen Mert Sagna
    ~~~~~~~ Szczesny

    • Phil23 says:

      So why did we NOT field a team that is quick on the break?
      Sorry about that typo. The sentence was supposed to read: So why did we field a team that is quick on the break?

  19. mk says:

    Any team would struggle to score against this type of defensive play from the opposition.. unfortunately for us lower teams have decided to only try it against arsenal.. if you compared how stoke lined up in their game vs united to how they play against us and it may as well have been a different club rather than the stoke we get in our games.

    We have to work out how to beat these teams or more and more will try it, even though the same tactics would probably work as well against the other big teams, they dont even try them.

    Perhaps with all this possession on the edge of the box we should be just trying to set up long range shots at goal and work on scoring from the resulting corners from blocks and saves… or maybe just deliberately give away possession more to suck the opposition out of their own half?

  20. mihir says:

    did anyone notice that gervinho is not really a football player?
    no brain…..just running around.
    and i am not one of those people-‘sell the deadwood’ ‘this player’s shit…that one’s shit’…..i am a football player myself…..
    i just don’t think that gervinho should have been associated in ANY way…with arsenal….not even a ball boy!
    the more i see him…the more i feel its not working…AT ALL…
    you play him upfront… know he’ll miss chances….you play him wide…he won’t cross….he’ll just let 5 people close him down….then he’ll try running to the corner line and put in a weak cross….
    am i really the only one who hates him that much?

  21. jeff wright says:

    Santori , Juan Mata, a player whom Wenger should have signed, was Chelsea’s main man against spuds ; and not Hazard, a player that Wenger did try to sign.
    The big difference between us and Chelsea this season is that they have moved on from losing Drogba – while we on the other-hand are struggling after losing RVP. Results against the same sides that we played last season prove this.
    Sunderland . two points down on last season.
    Stoke 2 down.
    Liverpool same .
    City we are one point up.
    Chelsea two down.
    Norwich 3 down.
    We have won our two matches against Southampton and WHU – who are newly promoted. . Fat Sam though is ahead of Arsene in the league after 8 played which sort of says a lot really.
    If this trend continues we will probably finish outside the top four – if one of the other sides competing for 4th spot puts in a consistent run of results.

  22. cocha says:

    i don’t understand our inability to score from corners….surely the coaching staff should catch on to the statistics..

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