Norwich City 1 Arsenal 1
( Grabben 43, Özil 30 )

A win would have taken Arsenal to the top of the Premier League. Under severe weather conditions and on a heavy pitch however, the Gunners failed to fire and take their chances, despite having taken the lead through Mesut Özil’s fourth goal of the season. Lewis Grabben, the forgotten man at Carrow Road levelled for the Canaries on the stroke of half time, and that would be the final score. The miserable Norfolk conditions matched Arsenal’s own misery as firstly Laurent Koscielny and then Alexis Sanchez limped off with injuries, the latter with an aggravated hamstring injury. The short 14 minute flight back to London may have been the only mercy for Arsene Wenger and his side. In light of the background of the injuries sustained to Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the Capital One Cup tie at Hillsborough, questions are beginning to mount on why Alexis – who Wenger acknowledged needed a break, wasn’t rested.

Arsenal have suffered just the one defeat in fifteen Carrow Road visits since 1984, and went into this fixture on the back of a Champions League midweek win over Dinamo Zagreb. Fit again Aaron Ramsey came back into the starting line up, with Oxlade-Chamberlain also returning for a place on the bench.

Alexis fired an early warning shot just past John Ruddy’s goal, the Chilean was lively, but, the same wasn’t true of Koscielny who seemed to get his feet caught on the long grass of the heavy Carrow Road surface. With only ten minutes on the clock, Gabriel replaced the France defender.

Arsenal were getting to grips with the challenging conditions. Santi Cazorla found Ozil who stroked the ball to Alexis to his left. Alexis slipped the ball to fast arriving Nacho Monreal also on the left, and his cross was caught first time by Ozil. Ruddy was exposed, and as the ball was about to nestle into his net, Sebastian Bassong struck out a boot to deflect the ball high for an Arsenal corner.

Cazorla exchanged a quick pass with Ramsey, then skipped past some robust efforts to displace him of the ball to find Alexis now on the right. Alexis struck powerfully with his right boot, leaving Ruddy to parry for a corner.

With their next move, Arsenal took the lead. Ruddy’s poor kick out was pounced on by Alexis. He found Özil who having glanced up, saw Ruddy racing off his line before exquisitely chipping left footed over the advancing Norwich keeper.

The compacted and narrow Carrow Road pitch then played an unwitting part when firstly Özil fell over the cameramen to the side of Ruddy’s goal, and then with perhaps with more than a hint of deliberateness, Alexis was pushed into one of the tv camera crew pits, by Ryan Bennet when there was no chance of his getting to the ball. Bennet’s push was wholly unnecessary.

Surely the Premier League need to look at this matter before serious injury could be caused in similar circumstances.

Robbie Brady tested Petr Cech as the home side finished the half strongly and they would soon get their reward. Brady fed Grabben, and only Gabriel will know why he was attempting to mark the Norwich striker in front of him. Grabben took the pass, and turned to side foot past the oncoming Cech for Norwich’s leveller. The home side could have gone in ahead at the break, but Wes Hoolanan skied from Andre Wisdom’s cross.

Arsenal came out for the second half in search of another lead. Cazorla found Sanchez and his deflected cross was missed by Olivier Giroud and then Ozil with Ruddy off his line.

Alexis caught the force of another Bennett interaction, this time his tackle seemed to be fare. However Alexis grabbed his right hamstring, and that was to be the end of his afternoon.

With Danny Welbeck, Walcott, Francis Coquelin, Thomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, then Koscielny and now Alexis all out, serious demands ( and questions ) will be asked of the Arsenal medical department, and what is preventing these medical professions from doing their jobs?

Norwich almost took the lead when Gabriel inadvertently headed towards Cech, but the Arsenal ‘keeper swung to his left to keep the ball out, and keep the scores level. Arsenal seemed to be tiring. Gabriel then cleared from Olsson’s cross as the home side seemed to get an injection of new energy. Wenger was frustrated at the final whistle, and with just two points from their last three Premier League matches, it was clear to see why.

He said ” I believe we played against a team who was physically at their top level, who defended deep to catch us on the break, and we were a bit jaded and not as sharp as usual. That made it difficult for us.

” We lost Sanchez, I don’t know for how long, but that’s a big blow to us and apart from that we have Santi Cazorla finished on one leg, we have Koscielny who moved out after the start of the game. We have to assess all that.”

The Gunners will hope to recover in time for Sunderland’s visit next Saturday.