Arsenal Vs Norwich: Highlights and analysis from hard-fought win

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Edward Nketiah celebrates scoring the first Arsenal goal during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Norwich City at Emirates Stadium on October 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Edward Nketiah celebrates scoring the first Arsenal goal during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Norwich City at Emirates Stadium on October 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) /

Arsenal hosted Norwich City on Tuesday night in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 2-1 win.

It was a hard-fought victory for Arsenal. Norwich City were regimented and disciplined, deserving of the one-goal lead that they held until late in the hour. But Arsene Wenger, with youth on his side, saw his side battle and battle, and, eventually, end the night on top. It did take extra-time for the Gunners to see past their combative visitors, but thanks to two goals from Eddie Nketiah, who had been introduced for the very corner that he scored from in 90 minutes before powering home a header in extra-time to seal the victory, Arsenal battled their way past Norwich and into the quarter-finals.

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The first half started in a thoroughly boring manner. With a complete lack of intensity in the game, Arsenal, slowly and lethargically, passed the ball through the midfield with little purpose or attacking incision. In fact, the first save from either goalkeeper for either side did not come until the 20th minute, and it was a thumping header from Rob Holding that was brilliantly tipped over the bar in a flash by young Norwich shot-stopper, Angus Gunn.

Arsenal did wind up the pressure on the Championship at times, with pass after pass after pass, trying to dislodge the Norwich defence, pulling them in and out of position in an attempt to engineer an angle for a sliding through ball in behind. But it was, for the most part, a futile effort. Daniel Farke’s side was disciplined, regimented and extremely well organised. Chances were hard to craft.

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But as the half progressed, the game began to open up a little. The first goal came with it. With Arsenal enjoying comfortable possession, Francis Coquelin had pushed up, with the pivoting Alex Iwobi and Jack Wilshere, who switched between central midfield and inside-left forward throughout the first 45 minutes, also in advanced positions, once possession was lost, Norwich broke, immediately exposing a gaping hole in the middle of the park, driving at the exposed back three. Iwobi tried to recover his position and win back possession, but as the ball squirmed free, Mohamed Elneny, who had stepped into midfield to support Iwobi, was picked off by James Maddison, with a sliding pass into the path of the onrushing Josh Murphy. With time to steady himself, Murphy brought Matt Macey onto him, before clipping a cute finish into the far corner.

There were more chances at either end as the half drew to a close. Theo Walcott hit a tame shot into the bottom corner that was comfortably fallen on by Angus Gunn, while Nelson Oliviera thought he had scored at the other end, only for Matt Macey to brilliantly tip his curled effort around the far post. For the most part, though, this was a boring first half, one that did not deserve a goal either way.

Arsenal started the second half fairly spritely. Alex Iwobi dragged a shot just wide of the post and Jack Wilshere took too long to shoot, seeing his shot blocked, with a hint of handball. But it was Norwich that looked more likely to continue scoring. And they can feel aggrieved that Mohamed Elneny wasn’t sent off. As Nelson Oliviera burst past the Egyptian, showing a nice turn of speed, Elneny put his left hand across the shoulder of the Norwich striker, bringing him down in the process. Elneny was booked for his cynicism. It could, perhaps should, have been much more.

As Arsenal pressed for the equaliser, they opened themselves at the other end. Nelson Oliviera skied a shot over the ball after good work from Ivo Pinto bursting forwards from right back, Josh Murphy again slipped the attentions of the Arsenal defence, only to equally miscue his effort over the bar, and then Mario Vrancic pulled a shot wide of the near post, after cutting inside Francis Coquelin, following great work from Nelson Oliviera to hold the ball up for the counter-attack.

Arsenal continued to flow forwards, with Wenger introducing Chuba Akpom off the bench, shifting Alex Iwobi to left wing-back to field as many attacking players as possible. And Norwich sat deeper and deeper, acutely aware of the precious lead that they held. That, ultimately, was their downfall.

As the Canaries slouched further and further into their own half, the energy seeped away from them. It was that lack of speed of thought, that lack of awareness and sharpness that cost them. Theo Walcott’s corner, whipped into the near post, was inventively flicked on by Francis Coquelin, and then turned in by Eddie Nketiah, who was the only man alive to the danger, poking home from the edge of the six-yard box. He had been on the pitch for 15 seconds.

Arsenal did have chances to win it before extra-time. Jack Wilshere’s poked shot was brilliantly charged down by Angus Gunn, and Olivier Giroud, who was poor throughout the night with limited movement and little impact on proceedings, struck a free-kick straight at the wall. But they could not find their way through. Extra-time, then, it would be.

As soon as extra-time commenced, it was clear who was going to win this game. And it wouldn’t take penalties. Norwich looked leggy in midfield, with their tiredness beginning to cause them to make mental errors, while Arsenal played with a greater impetus and intensity, driving forwards with verve and vibrancy. The Gunners’ second goal came through that man again. And, again, it was another simple corner. Theo Walcott again whips it in from the left-hand side, but this time a little deeper. Nketiah had darted across the face of his marker to power home the header and seemingly secure the tie for the Gunners.

There were nervy moments as Arsenal tried to see the game out. A couple of flashed crosses towards Cameron Jerome caused problems, while James Husband went down under the clumsy challenge of Mathieu Debuchy, and perhaps should have been awarded a penalty. But, ultimately, thanks to an influx of youth off the bench, Wenger and his players were able to see the game through.

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They now enter the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup with hopes of furthering their progress in the competition. With strong squad depth, several experienced reserves and a nice blend of youth coming through, a nice draw and a couple of wins could see Arsenal challenge for the first domestic cup of the season.