Ozil Shines, Injuries Pile up and Gunners Struggle in the League
Norwich 1 (Grabban 43′) – Arsenal 1 (Ozil)
With Manchester United and Leicester sharing the spoils, as well as Manchester City returning back to winning ways against Southampton, the onus was on Arsenal to put up a performance against Norwich that would see them keep pace with the leading pack.
Aaron Ramsey returned to the starting lineup ahead of Joel Campbell and it was Wenger’s strongest XI. There were some concerns about Alexis Sanchez’s hamstring injury but the manager opted to start the Chilean. Barely minutes into the game, Koscielny suffered a hip injury and was replaced by Gabriel Paulista. The Frenchman has suffered some fitness problems this season and that could be from accumulated fatigue. Sanchez wasn’t playing like someone that had some fitness concerns as he tested the keeper on a couple of occasions but he was on hand to supply a neat pass to Mesut Ozil that dinked the ball over the onrushing John Ruddy. Ozil is in the form of his life, providing assist after assist for his teammates but now, he has two goals in his last two games.
The writing was on the wall for the home side to get back into the game when Robbie Brady was allowed to fire a shot that was parried by Cech but Norwich got the equalizer their play deserved when Brady teed up Lewis Grabban with a neat pass. Gabriel’s positioning was suspect, and the forward coolly slotted the ball past Cech. Norwich were almost two up when Andre Wisdom crossed the ball across the goalmouth but Wes Hoolahan’s shin ballooned the ball over the bar.
Early in the second half, there was an injury concern for Cazorla but he manged to play the entire game. Wenger confirmed afterwards that his midfielder had a dead leg. Arsenal’s injury woes were compounded when Sanchez aggravated his hamstring injury and he had to be replaced by Joel Campbell. Ramsey was having a stinker on his return to first team action and he was replaced by the Ox with 20 minutes or so to spare.
With the game delicately poised, any goal scored would have been enough to be the match winner and Arsenal had Petr Cech to thank as he made an outstanding save for what would have been an embarrassing Gabriel Paulista own goal. In the end, it looked like two precious points lost, rather than one point gained.
In three league games, the Gunners manged a meager two points, which also meant that Arsene Wenger’s side failed to register any win in November. The bigger concern from the game would be the notable absences of Sanchez and Koscielny that would be absolutely vital for the Gunners in their trip to Athens next week Tuesday. On the bright side, Ozil’s upturn in form has been a pleasurable sight all season long and I hope it continues.
On a grand scale of things, the Gunners are just two points off the top, so it’s not that bad but they need to return to winning ways, starting with struggling Sunderland that would be buoyed by their win over Stoke.
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