Norwich City 1 Arsenal 4: Come in number 44, your time is up

Last updated : 29 August 2004 By Brian Dawes

Dennis - Simply awesome
Personally I reckon such an alluring design would undoubtedly enhance the walls of any public lavatory, or White Hart Lane which is much the same thing.

Saturday’s match was something to look forward to if only because Carrow Road isn’t on our regular season by season itinerary. We hadn’t played Norwich for about a decade and our record at Carrow Road wasn’t overly impressive in the past but this game between two champions had all the prospects of a major Cup-tie atmosphere and we were not disappointed. Arsenal are currently the biggest scalp in England and whoever ends our run, will have something to dine out on for quite a while. Unless you walk to an away ground proudly wearing an Arsenal shirt you may never appreciate just how extensive is the awe in which the Gunners are currently held. The genuine football fans of most teams we play now actually look forward to seeing the current gods of football in the flesh. There are a lot of punters out there who will be telling generations, as yet unborn, that they saw the mighty Arsenal. 23,944 of them were at Norwich.

Bizarrely Arsenal started with just four subs as it seems Cygan had done his calf muscle in the warm up. So Justin Hoyte became our makeshift centre back for the day. Henry started with Reyes up front, Rob was on the left and Freddie on the right, with Cesc and Gilberto central. The rest were as you would expect which included Lehmann wearing a natty sky blue number that I thought preferable to his man-in-grey creation.

Cesc pressed forward early and a foul on Gilberto was a prelude to a series of such attention dolled out to our Brazilian. Norwich do play football, but they had definitely targeted Silva as the man to take out the game. He took his whacking like a man however and covered acres of ground with good effect to boot. Norwich were kicking towards The Barclay Stand where the hardcore Canary supporters seemingly congregate and the travelling Gooners were along side them at one end of the Jarrold Stand which is along the side. The single tier stand reminded me a bit of Carlisle’s but with superior facilities that included on this occasion Delia’s pie of the day, which was lamb and mint.

For a match which had two teams that enjoy playing football I found it a bit strange that the match only flowed spasmodically. Possible that’s because I now expect too much from our boys who so often play ‘different planet football’. Holt upended Cesc as early Arsenal pressure won a corner and having seen us score from one in the previous match we got more excited than is usual for an Arsenal corner. Lauren put in a decent cross, Rob’s shot was deflected and we won another corner which Green took well. Apparently there is a strong rumour in Norwich that Arsenal will be in for Green at the end of the season.

The yellows second attack ended with a naff cross and they were quite often one good ball away from a decent move. Tel had a drive down the left, Jose had a shot saved and Gilberto took another knock. The excitable Norwich fans who hadn’t seen their team beaten at Carrow Road since January took the view that every time a red shirt hit the deck he must be an evil cheating foreigner. Graham Poll took the view that a whack from behind around the ankles was only worth a free kick. Poll in days on old would have booked about ten players today, minimum. McVeigh left his foot in before Cole and Kolo were called upon to clear our lines. Holt climbed all over the back of Gilberto for a free kick. Lets not pretend that Norwich only play football, they’ve figured out quite early in the season that they’ll have to mix it, they were not filthy but they certainly were not afraid to take players out, or moan at Poll when he gave a free kick, which wasn’t every time by any means. Reyes to Rob who won another corner. Henry hit a chip/cross/shot to the far post that won another.

We were playing neat one-twos into their box and hitting the occasional cross but there was no clear-cut penetration. Cole was required to block an attack and was then fouled by Huckerby who is the pivot of almost everything Norwich did that was worthwhile. Norwich without Huckerby would be pretty toothless and his running often had us scrambling. Jose went close for a corner. Pires to Henry, to Pires who fired over from the corner, nice to see more variety at corners. Another attempt from a corner ended when a shot from Kolo. Lauren headed clear a Norwich attack, Arsenal broke quickly (an over used phrase but true) and Henry might have scored, but only won a corner. Cole on a good run was fouled again by Huckerby. Henry hit the free kick into their wall and claimed handball as a yellow shirt protected his face with an arm. It was not given so maybe this irritated Henry enough to go on a decent run which took him to the line and saw him cross to Reyes. 0-1 Arsenal, our pressure was worthy of the lead.

Gilberto competes with Doherty
Jonson did his first thing of note when he flattened Ljungberg after Arsenal cleared their lines. The game was reasonably open without ever really being end to end. ‘That’s why we’re the champions’. There was more flow now and the moves began to sweep, the interchanges were crisper, and the movement less predictable. ‘Carefree wherever you may be, Chelsea ain’t got no history, Lampard’s fat the rest are queer and they haven’t won the League for forty-nine years’ Clearly the travelling Gooners already see Chelski as our most serious rivals, myself included. A Cole headed out and found Pires who cleared the lines with a pass to Reyes whose shot was deflected past the post for a corner. Huckerby versus Lauren on a break, they are both central and both using their arms, the lino was right in line and we watched in horror as Huckerby went down. Lauren was our last man, Huckerby had gone down too easily, but Poll was in charge so we feared the worse. The lino ran back 20 yards and a free kick and yellow card were awarded against Lauren just outside the centre circle. I have yet to see any replays so will not comment further but the fans in yellow went ballistic.

Arsenal being Arsenal went straight up the other end with controlled passing worked Ashley into their box. The big lump Doherty fouled Kolo and the Norwich fans moaned some more. Possibly by way of punishment for this pointless, unjustified moaning Arsenal worked a move, primarily down our right which seemed to involve pretty well everyone. When the ball was crossed in from the right Henry moved across towards the near post to head home. 0-2 ‘That’s why we’re the Champions’ ‘You might as well go home’. Let me repeat that for the disbelievers: Henry moved across towards the near post to head home. Headers and tap-ins this season, what is the world coming to?

Gilberto won a fine tackle found Henry who found Reyes whose shot was saved. Great tackle by Fabregas on Huckerby. Norwich were beginning to open up, for a while they looked as dizzy as a kitten hauled out of a spin drier (don’t try that at home kids). Freddie stole the ball back as an attack broke down and Pires scored. 0-3 Arsenal ‘We are unbeatable’.

Lehmann was called into action with a couple of crosses to catch, the first being a decent one from Huckerby. Huckerby was then caught miles offside. A bad foul on Gilberto was waved play on by Poll. Gilberto had definitely been targeted. In the two minutes added time Jens was required to make an easy catch. Lauren got caught in trouble and as a result Huckerby, that man again, got into our box and dived dramatically. It wasn’t even worthy of a bronze, quite pathetic really but the Canaries fans yellows were having fits. ‘All you do is fecking moan’ was the Gooners response.

A half-time observation for you. If you come across a prat of a copper who feels his sole purpose on match day is to obstruct the view of the paying public whilst watching the match himself try this. Call a steward, ask him exactly where on your ticket it says ‘obstructed view’ and get the steward to move the lump with a dimple on his head. It worked for me.

The anonymous Jonson was replaced by Safri. Norwich’s first attack was repelled with ease. Jens came out to catch a deep diagonal cross. Pires and Cole combined well and Ash found Freddie wide. Five minutes into the half Hoyte appeared to make a reasonable tackle on Huckerby but a penalty was awarded. The defence is seriously unimpressed and tell Poll what they think. Jens guesses the wrong way and Huckerby makes it 1-3. Arsenal fans took the piss over the Canaries celebrations. Fair enough, banter between fans is a game of wind-ups, if you can’t take it don’t dish it out, some of the travelling Gooners just happen to be perfecting the art of the wind up.

Theirry Henry shoots past Mc.Veigh
Norwich had a spell here that got their fans excited. Huckerby played a fine one-two and had a good shot that Jens pushed away for a corner. Holt had a shot that Jens tipped over for another corner. Lehmann was then attacked in the air by two Norwich lumps and totally flattened. Poll who enjoys a good wind-up himself failed to spot this totally obvious free kick as Norwich cleared. Norwich were playing the football now but Gilberto was still being taken out off the ball. Safri, who is quite a nasty little shit on the quiet, whacked Reyes from behind hard enough to require treatment. A belated free kick was awarded. Lauren to Freddie who put in a good cross. Arsenal had regained control as Norwich required eight men deep in their own half to restrain us.

Arsenal worked the ball around sweetly and our slow build up was more about taking the steam out of the match than anything else, not that this stopped us working young Ash into the box. Cole I feel is still only twenty-three, but the fact that he’s been around for ages and is getting on for world class sometimes makes some Gooners overlook the fact that he is still learning his craft. The donkey Doherty fouled Kolo again who took charge of our defence in no uncertain way. Hoyte’s lack of experience at centre back or in Premiership football was masked by yet another brilliant display by Toure. He is a rock. My notes tell me that Safri has all the makings of a dirty little **** but I don’t recall which particular transgression prompted this.

From here on in we generally controlled the match with passes that tempted Norwich out whilst retaining the initiative. A lot of it was distinctly second gear and we certainly didn’t go hell for leather after the break. I admit to moaning about this at the time because I wanted us to maintain our average of four goals a game, how greedy is that? Huckerby went dangerously close when a cross in provided a header that was cleared. Pires put Reyes away for a shot at his second attempt but the shot was saved. Francesc who’d worked quietly way had a decent solo. Henry won a corner that he himself took and aimed for Gilberto at the far post. Lauren won good ball to set up henry.

Huckerby was stopped as Norwich slowed down a decent move at the vital moment. Reyes had another shot blocked; meanwhile Henry continued to tease on the left while looking for a killer ball. We laughed heartily at Drury who screwed up to concede a corner, this one ended at the feet of henry who shot over from range. Holt did well to clear from Reyes. Dennis and Edu replaced Fabregas and Reyes. ‘We’ve got Dennis Bergkamp’ and indeed we have. We were playing too many passes now for my money (£29 quid since you ask) but Dennis showed his class and Henry showed as much if not more class as we continued to spray passes at will.

Kolo the rock was required to clear a couple of times ‘Have you ever seen Chelski win the League’. Good clearing header from Hoyte. Arsenal in passing mode are a joy to watch and a brilliant move worked Cole into the box for a tidy cross that Tel didn’t read. The donkey went off to be replaced by Svensson. The dirty little **** Safri, you can tell I’ve taken a dislike to him can’t you, hacked away at Henry three or four times to get an overdue card. Pires replaced by Clichy.

With Arsenal in second gear the Gooners started chanting ’71 – 2004’ and ’61 never again’ just in case any Scum were watching on pay per view. Good runs from Huckerby and Francis whose shot was saved. Another good ball in but two players jumped at Jens again. A bad foul by Francis on Freddie but no card. Lauren fouled McKenzie who reacted dramatically, but we’d all seen Poll give a second yellow for less. The Norwich fans were incensed and chanted ‘Graham Poll is a w*nker’. Arsenal fans having had far more detrimental experience of the Tring trigger corrected the Canaries with a rendition of ‘Graham Poll is a fecking ars*hole’

Which left us deep in to added time and Henry on the left finding Dennis in space near the edge of the box, wallop! 1-4 Arsenal and I had my wish of maintaining a four-goal average. Our run continues!