Arsenal’s injury crisis deepens after draw at Norwich
PUBLISHED: 18:09 29 November 2015 | UPDATED: 18:09 29 November 2015
Norwich City 1 Arsenal 1
Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez both limped off in Sunday’s draw at Carrow Road as Arsenal’s injury concerns continued to mount.
Koscielny picked up a hip problem early on, while Sanchez, whose hamstring had been the cause of anxiety in the build-up to the game, limped off after an hour.
The Gunners took a 30th-minute lead through Mesut Ozil, only to be pegged back by Lewis Grabban’s equaliser – a result that left them fourth in the table, two points behind Manchester City and Leicester.
The visitors’ catalogue of injuries began to lengthen inside the first 10 minutes as Koscielny, in the process of a routine challenge on Grabban, pulled up and had to be replaced by Gabriel.
Despite that, Arsenal dominated possession, although it was on the break that they looked most dangerous, with Nacho Monreal getting forward to set up chances for Sanchez and Olivier Giroud.
With that said, there was little for John Ruddy to do until the approach of the half-hour point, when Santi Cazorla danced past two challenges and set up Sanchez for a thumping drive.
But Ruddy’s error gifted the visitors the lead a few minutes later, with a sloppy clearance enabling Sanchez to rob Gary O’Neil and quickly find Ozil, who clipped his finish neatly past the despairing goalkeeper.
The Gunners had been unable to hold their lead for long at West Brom – and that failing was repeated when Robbie Brady, who had just tested Petr Cech with a vigorous drive, set up the equaliser two minutes before half-time.
Brady cut in from the left and a deft pass left Koscielny’s replacement Gabriel floundering as Grabban slipped past him to collect and stroke the ball past Cech.
Wes Hoolahan might have put Norwich ahead soon afterwards, rifling a difficult chance over at the far post – but the momentum seemed to pass back to the visitors when the teams re-emerged for the second period.
Ozil hooked the ball over from close range after Ruddy got into a tangle again, but the Gunners were hit by a further injury blow when Sanchez appeared to tweak his hamstring with a third of the game still to play.
Norwich found their second wind and Martin Olsson whipped in a cross that flew off the head of Gabriel towards the bottom corner, requiring a superb reaction stop from Cech to keep the scores level.
Jonny Howson scooped over the bar from the resulting corner while, at the other end, the returning Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain supplied a cross for Giroud, whose header sailed off target.
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Gabriel 11), Monreal; Flamini, Cazorla; Ramsey (Oxlade-Chamberlain 72), Ozil, Sanchez (Campbell 60); Giroud.