Norwich's last stand at Arsenal proves in vain

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Mike Hewitt/Getty ImagesMichael Turner's goal had a composed Norwich believing that three points was possible at the Emirates.

The final margin of victory for Arsenal may have been entirely predictable. But that does not even begin to convey the dramatic late twist at the Emirates which punctured Norwich City's brave resistance.

Mikel Arteta, Oliver Giroud and Lukas Podolski struck in five breathless minutes at the end of normal time after Michael Turner's glancing header just before the hour mark had stunned the Champions League-chasing hosts.

- Mangan: Substitutes help save lacklustre Arsenal

Arsenal will point to overwhelming territorial dominance and large swathes of possession underpinning this 3-1 Premier League victory, but the manner of the delirious celebrations that greeted the final whistle told a different story.

Chris Hughton's men were within touching distance of a stellar win to bolster their own survival bid. That the officials again intervened will have left a bitter aftertaste. Norwich looked to have successfully blunted Arsenal's attacking urges despite the introductions of both Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in pursuit of a foothold, after Turner had powered home Robert Snodgrass' free kick.

But Snodgrass was adjudged to have conceded a corner that television replays would conclusively prove did not touch the Scottish international. City's Kei Kamara was then adjudged to have manhandled Giroud to the ground from the resulting delivery on the advice of the same assistant referee. Kamara clearly appeared to have a piece of the Frenchman's shirt from the assistant's angle, but referee Mike Jones will have seen reciprocal holding from the Arsenal frontman from far closer. Jones opted to defer to his assistant and Arteta's low penalty evaded Mark Bunn's grasp.

Freed from the mental anguish of a game seemingly running away from the Gunners, Arsene Wenger's men poured forward. Giroud slid home Oxlade-Chamberlain's low cutback with Norwich still reeling from the sense of injustice. Podolski's fearsome hit from the edge of the area in stoppage time merely confirmed the fates were against Hughton's men. Jonny Howson was denied by Lukasz Fabianski just seconds before in a stirring riposte from the visitors.

Arsenal would rightly point to Bunn's heroics in either half to deny first Giroud and then Podolski's swinging shot which he diverted against the underside of his bar. But City would have expected nothing less from a side with far loftier ambitions. For the most part, Bunn had been well-protected which merely magnified the sense of loss.

Hughton was at pains to stress during the build-up that Norwich's fate this season would not hinge on what happened at the Emirates. If anything, the manner of this defiance should embolden them for the far more pivotal home games to come against the likes of Reading and Aston Villa.

City had crumbled in the face of superior opponents at both Liverpool and Manchester United this campaign. Yet there was an inner confidence and self-assurance for the majority of this contest that should remain once the raw pain recedes at the circumstances surrounding the Canaries' late implosion.

ESPN Conversations