LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal battles with Bradley Johnson of Norwich City during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on May 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Arsenal could not hold off a determined Norwich side after taking two leads, and they drew. Their hopes for third place are in serious jeopardy now.
Arsenal's lineup was basically as expected for the final home match of the year. It wouldn't take long for them to make things happen, as 66 seconds in, Yossi Benayoun trickerated his way and made a little space for himself in the corner of the penalty area and simply bent one into the far corner of the net.
1-0 to Arsenal.
Norwich, to their credit, kept pressing. They were making chances, and six minutes in, Grant Holt lashed a cutback towards goal that Kieran Gibbs had to be alert to block, or it would have equalized for the Canaries. The Benayoun goal aside, Arsenal were creating little, and Norwich were doing more of the attacking.
13 minutes in, it mattered. Wes Hoolahan was left all alone in the box to turn home the easiest of chances; Szczesny should perhaps have done more to stop it, but Arsenal as a whole were being completely outworked.
Norwich continued to look the better side. Aaron Ramsey picked up a yellow card for a late tackle on Jonathan Howson. The Canaries were pressing and through-marking, and combined with an Arsenal side that looked a little lethargic, were really causing problems. Arsenal may as well have not played with a midfield, because 27 minutes in, Grant Holt picked up the simplest of passes from the his strike partner behind Arsenal's midfield, turned, hesitated a bit, and had a pop that looped up off of Kieran Gibbs over Szczesny and into the net.
1-2. Norwich on top.
Simeon Jackson earned a yellow on 29 minutes for a hard late challenge on Laurent Koscielny. 32 minutes in, Bacary Sagna had to be stretchered off, and he was replaced by Francis Coquelin. Kieran Gibbs had a chance after Gervinho got to the byline and cut back, but it squibbed wide of the far post 37 minutes on. Arsenal were starting to play with more tempo, but it was serving only to blow the game wide open, and 39-40 minutes were a flurry of chances, Coquelin making a last-ditch tackle in the penalty area as Hoolihan looked to shoot. 42 minutes in, Norwich had a penalty shout as Koscielny and Russell Martin went down in a heap in the box. suspicions of shirt pulling. It appeared that they were just locked up in replays, but "one has seen them given", indeed.
Holt nearly scored again 49 minutes into the first half, but Koscielny made a last-ditch tackle to deny him. It was the last action before halftime, save for the storm of boos that accompanied the players as they departed the pitch.
Arsenal started the second half better, but 52 minutes on, Jackson had a break, and Szczesny had to save as Arsenal's defending was shambolic once again. Ramsey's 53rd minute tackle could have easily seen red, but he stayed on. Aresnal won a free kick on 57 minutes, but John Ruddy saved Benayoun's downwards header. Jackson nearly turned home a low cross, but couldn't quite get there. Hoolahan came near on 58 minutes, too. Arsenal nearly scored on 59 minutes. Norwich nearly scored on 60 minutes.
It was like that.
Hoolahan got a yellow for throwing the ball away.
63 minutes on, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Ramsey. 66 minutes on, Benayoun played van Persie through, but his shot wasn't the best on his right foot, and he missed. 67 minutes on, Gervinho played a lovely cutback to Vermaelen, whose shot was blocked, as was Tomas Rosicky's follow up. 69 minutes on, Steve Morison came on for Jackson.
70 minutes on, Marouane Chamakh came on for Yossi Benayoun. Yep. Um. Yep.
73 minutes on, Arsenal built another attack from good work from Gervinho on the left. Chamakh's effort was blocked, but the ball ran deep to Song, who chipped over the defense to van Persie, who volleyed home as he always does.
Chamakh headed over from a corner after what could have been a penalty for handball against Norwich.
75 minutes on, Anthony Pilkington came on for Hoolahan. Chamakh played a 1-2 with van Persie, whose shot was saved.
78 minutes. 79 minutes. 80 minutes, boom.
Gervinho cut the ball back to Rosicky, whose attempted through-ball sort of squirted through some bodies, and who else was there, but van Persie, to bury it past Ruddy, who got a hand to it.
81 minutes. 82 minutes. 83 minutes, Norwich chance. 84 minutes. 85 minutes.
Norwich goal. Morison. 3-3. Barfing.
86 minutes. 87 minutes, RvP chance, save.
88 minutes. 89 minutes, RvP penalty shout, denied. 90 minutes, Song backheel chance, saved. 91 minutes. 92 minutes. 93 minutes.
Absolute chaos. Ruddy, heroic saves all over.
94 minutes. Over. 3-3. Arsenal in serious trouble.