In the end it was a scoreline that Paul Lambert and his Norwich City squad can feel proud of. With the knowledge that goal differential may very well hold the key to their ultimate survival in the English Premier League it remains vital that the Canaries bend where they are expected to break. This match will ultimately prove to be less disappointing than the 3-2 defeat at Villa Park two weeks ago as Arsenal controlled the game from the outset. However, as has so frequently been the case there are a number of statistics that point to this match being another step in Norwich’s goal of remaining in the Premier League.
From the start it was clear this would either be Arsenal’s day handily or a hard fought match throughout. In the end it turned out to be the latter. This match was clearly played at the tempo and in the manner that Arsene Wenger’s squad typically impose on a match; it was also played in the style that Lambert’s men have employed throughout their Premier League campaign.
In the graphic on the left we can see that Norwich City continued to press the field as they typically would, competing a slightly higher percentage of passes in this match while also attempting more.
Though the crossing numbers are slightly worse, any one game sample is likely to vary significantly and looking at the 15 attempted in 94′ here that is a cross every 6.26 minutes. For the season their 283 in 1152′ is a cross every 4.07 minutes. The relative lack of crossing, combined with the lower accuracy of the crosses, contributed to Lambert’s side seeing fewer chances. The Canaries were able to limit the amount of possession that Arsenal enjoyed. Although the Gunners were still dominant, they held less than 60% of the possession with 57.5%. Arsenal also created 17 chances to the Canaries 6, with another inspired performance from John Ruddy keeping the scoreline close.
Ruddy recorded 7 saves in the match but the rest of his numbers were not good. He took 13 goal kicks and 27 open play passes but was accurate with just 6 goal kicks and 5 passes for 19% pass completion. This was evident in the amount of pressure that Arsenal were able to maintain as they effectuated 82 final third entries and attempted 152 passes in the final third and 319 in the attacking half. Norwich did have their chances, with 76 final third entries and 127 final third passes but, as noted above, they were only able to convert that possession in the attacking end into 6 chances.
Defensively this was another excellent outing for Norwich. They won more than 50% of all of their challanges, in this match showing particular skill at winning aerial 50/50’s with 68% of their 19 aerial duels won.
They also managed to win nearly two-thirds of all their tackles, while they attempted a tackle every 3.9 minutes. Over the course of the match that pace equated to 24 tackles while their season average would have only seen them making 18.8. The 5 additional tackles, coupled with the 22 interceptions, highlight a solid defensive effort.
The problem, yet again, was Norwich’s propensity to commit a defensive error. This has seen the club face the most penalty shots in the EPL this term as well as prevented them from posting a single clean sheet through the opening twelve fixtures.
Fortunately, the Canaries have also shown a knack for hard-fought goal. While Grant Holt’s goal may live longer in the memory, this effort from Steve Morison (16′) showed exactly what can be achieved from dogged determination as he bullied Per Mertesacker. The loan goal may not appear much but it is goals like this that has the club sitting above Everton on goals scored and Swansea on goal differential.
It is in the final third that Lambert’s side were unable to overcome the difference in class as they managed just two shots on target, a far cry from the 4.5 on target/match they average. Further, their shooting accuracy was stifled, particularly by the play of Arteta and Song in the middle of the pitch as each of the Gunners midfielders recorded solid numbers – Arteta 3 tackles, 1 block, 6 interceptions; Song 4 tackles 1 interception – as Arteta was dribbled past just one time and Song did not allow a single Canary to beat him with the ball.
In the end it is a disappointment to see any home match end in a loss. Yet six played at Carrow Road and the record stands 2-2-2, a solid foundation upon which to build a successful campaign. With a visit from Queens Park Rangers a week away every member of the Yellow Army will be expecting a winning home record to accompany them on the trip to Manchester and the Etihad Stadium on December 3rd.