For a long time I didn’t think we were going to win. We seemed even worse than before, listlessly trying the same thing again and again even though it wasn’t working. As Arsene Wenger acknowledged after the game, this kind of situation has bogged us down all season (longer really) – we just don’t know how to deal with teams that sit deep.
Things briefly got a little more interesting at around twelve minutes in with the ‘demonstration’. This turned out to be no more impressive than the football. It wasn’t huge and was dwarfed after by those singing ‘one Arsene Wenger’. Back on the pitch we huffed and puffed, repeatedly trying to drive through the middle of Norwich. Just occasionally we would get it out wide, but the crosses were aimed at an isolated Giroud and easily defended by Bassong and Martin. At the other end Norwich did the best they could with regular breaks and Petr Cech needed to keep us in it with some sharp saves. We were better at defending crosses than of late though. Not completely secure, but nothing breathtakingly dumb either.
About an hour in, Arsene Wenger sent on Danny Welbeck, taking off Iwobi. Much booing all round, the Iwobi bit rather than the arrival on Welbeck, but to be honest the young Nigerian wasn’t having his best game. He’d been going in field and banging his head against the yellow wall like everyone else. Straight away after the change we seemed to have more purpose, more variety and more than just Giroud in the box. Five minutes later we scored. The unsubstituted Giroud won a header and Iwobi replacement Welbeck banged it in. One nil to the Arsenal. ‘Arsene knows!’ tweeted someone, but if this was the definitive answer to the ‘eight defenders’ problem then the revelation has come rather late.
We carried on being better after that, playing with more purpose and speed. Though to be honest that was probably as much to do with point-desperate Norwich coming further out and leaving more space to play in.
We should have got a second, most likely after a fantastic pass from Ozil, but Sanchez ran into the defenders, all Wilshere-like, rather than passing to the uncrowded Bellerin and we missed out. Per Mertesacker went off with what looked like a hamstring injury so his season may be done.
So for a little while at least we are back up to third place. City go to Southampton this afternoon which isn’t as easy fixture so who knows, it might just stick. In fact, those around us have quite tough games this weekend, so it’s as well that we did manage to squeeze past Norwich.
Do we know anything new after this game? Nothing startling other than the fact Arsene Wenger can make tactical substitutions before 70 minutes afterall. Two games to go. Best possible finish – second, worst possible finish – seventh, mostly likely finish – fourth. Most clubs would envy these options but this feels so very dull.