Arsenal 3 Norwich City 3

Those dark days that so afflicted Arsenal’s season opening, appear to have made an untimely comeback in their season run in. Losses to strugglers Queens Park Rangers and Wigan with tame draws at Stoke and at home Chelsea has not been the form that Arsene Wenger would have demanded. And now the latest chapter in the most forgetful of seasons sees the Gunners’ Champions League ambitions no longer in their control. The dramatic 3-3 against Norwich at the Emirates could have sounded the death knell of Arsenal playing in Europe’s top club competition, as Wenger now requires favourable results from Manchester City and Aston Villa against Newcastle and Spurs respectively. Even a double strike from Robin Van Persie which saw him reach the 30 Premiership goal tally for the season, could not save Arsenal from a spirited Norwich who played with poise and purpose and never gave up.

Yossi Benayoun gave Arsenal the lead within seconds of the kick-off, and we awaited a red and white onslaught. Only it never materialised, Wes Hoolihan grabbed a deserved leveller and then the Emirates was stunned when Grant Holt put the visitors ahead. After the re-start, Van Persie’s double looked to have given his team all the points, that was until substitute Morison struck a Canaries equaliser, which sent the canary yellow clad fans into euphoria.

With barely a minute on the clock, Benayoun opened the scoring. Jinking his way through the Norwich defence on the left, from Rosicky’s pass to he left fly with a curler that was too good for John Ruddy and flew inside the Norwich upright. That seemed to be the template of things to come, but the Canaries had other ideas and began to move the Gunners defence about with their aerial menace. Kieran Gibbs blocked Holt, but still the Norwich striker was causing discomfort for the Gunners. Holt saw a header go close, but it was to be a keeper error that saw Norwich draw level.

Another move of pass and precision, but this was the away side who carved open the Gunners’ high defensive line. Kyle Naughton crossed from the right with Hoolahan unamarked to place the ball that Szczesny had covered, but managed to let slip and into the net. On the balance of play, the leveller was deserved, but Norwich took the lead from that danger man Holt. He fed Houlihan and raced away from Gibbs to receive a pass that he hit off the Arsenal defender that then looped over the stranded Szczesny. More woe for the Gunners came when Bacary Sagna doubled up in pain with what appeared to be a leg injury and had to be stretchered off with what was later revealed to be a leg fracture. On came Francis Coquelin, but still their forward forays were rare. Van Persie had earlier gone close to Sagna’s cross and Gibbs hit a shot just wide of John Ruddy’s upright. Still Holt had another effort that Koscileny did well to block.

Aaron Ramsey had another frustrating game, and it was no surprise when Wenger replaced him with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The swicth injected pace and vigour in an attack that had created but still could not convert. Gervinho was busy without being dangerous and Rosicky’s energy was at the heart of all Arsenal attacks. Inevitably it was Van Persie who drew Arsenal level, and inevitably the assist came from Alex Song. The momentum was with the Gunners and Van Persie was hungry for more. Another move had seen the Holland marksman and Thomas Vermaelen see efforts blocked, but when Rosicky found his captain, a left footed shot for Arsenal’s third seemed to have sewn up the points. Norwich however had already see Simeon Jackson hit a shot at Szczesny when clear and when substitute Steve Morison struck past Szczesny, the damage had been done. With as minute top go Van Persie was bundled over in the area, but no penalty was awarded as Arsenal saw their Champions League ambitions severley dented.