Monday, 15 April 2013

Booing Gervinho distasteful -Ramsey growing into class act -Wenger's selection dilemma

Morning Gooners.

I thought we were going to be in for yet another frustrating afternoon after just ten minutes. We weren't our usual self. The tempo wasn't right. Our passing was off and our movement was dire. Norwich had come set up to park the bus and did a very good job at it. Neither team had a shot on target in the opening 20 minutes!

Arsene Wenger made three changes, two of which were enforced on him. Tomas Rosicky failed to pass a fitness test on Friday morning and wasn't included in the squad. He was replaced by Jack Wilshere. Per Mertesacker served his one match ban following his red card last weekend and in came Thomas Vermaelen. The other change was the recall of Kieran Gibbs in place of Nacho Monreal.

From the open exchanges it was clear to me that Wilshere wasn't on his usual game. While he showed the usual spirit and commitment but he appeared off the pace and his passing wasn't as accurate as usual. But that didn't stop him from wanting to dictate play and be involved as possible.

Gervinho appeared to be key to breaking down the Norwich defence. The Ivorian was the most unpredictable player on the pitch. He does things which no other player in our squad can do, baffling the opposition as much as his team mates. With two goals and three assists in his previous three games, it was right - despite my call that Theo Walcott should have started - that he should be given the chance to win us the game.

And he had opportunities. He got himself into some very good positions but his final ball let him down. He might get shot down by our own supporters for trying these things but at least he's having a go. He's not as direct as Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain and in my opinion that's a good thing.  We need someone who's trickery bamboozles defenders and pulls them out of position. And he can get his final ball right sometimes, as we've seen in previous games.

If Gervinho can create these chances then he's making a contribution to the team. Unfortunately yesterday wasn't his day.

The first half was tedious because of Norwich's tactics and because we were playing below par. Santi Cazorla wasn't having his best game and because of Wilshere being off the pace, we failed to create too many chances. Olivier Giroud wasn't at his best either.

The second half started as the first left off. Norwich were aiming to get a goal from a set piece. That's where they've been most dangerous all season. And it was where their 56th minute goal came from. Turner peeling away from the Arsenal defence to head into the corner past Fabianski from the Snodgrass free kick.

Wenger immediately made two changes. Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott coming on for Gervinho and Wilshere. The England man should have been awarded a penalty with his first involvement after being brought down by Whittaker.

The German got himself into good positions and fluffed one particularly good chance. Another he cannoned against the bar. But the game was turning and it was all Arsenal. The difference came when Wenger made his third substitution. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming on with ten minutes of the 90 to play.

From a corner the assistant referee spotted that Giroud was pulled down by Kai Kamara. He waved for a penalty and the referee awarded it. After much protesting from the Norwich players, Arteta converted the spot kick.

Oxlade-Chamberlain created the second three minutes later. His direct running into the box and pull back was hit goalwards by a combination of Giroud and Bassong. The Frenchman claiming it vigorously.

And Podolski added the cherry to the cake with a third two minutes into injury time after good work from Walcott. It's probably no more than the German deserved after fluffing his other chances.

The result puts us third having played the same number of matches as Spurs and a game more than Chelsea. Win tomorrow night and we'll increase our advantage.

The manager has a number of selection dilemmas for the Everton game. With a squad full of players who are chomping at the bit to be given a chance to play their put in this team securing a place in the Champions League.

That's it for today. More tomorrow.

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