Van Persie double in vain
London - Arsenal's bid for a top-four finish
suffered a major setback as Steve Morison's late goal earned Norwich a
deserved point in a six-goal thriller at the Emirates.
Yossi Benayoun's opener in the second minute had seemed to put Arsene Wenger's side on course for an easy afternoon.
with Norwich having gone ahead through Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt, a
double from Robin van Persie seemed to have won it for the hosts before
substitute Morison stunned the home crowd with a smart finish five
minutes from time.
Without a victory in their last three matches,
Arsenal came flying out of the blocks and took the lead inside the
opening 70 seconds.
Nothing seemed on when birthday boy Benayoun
received the ball from Tomas Rosicky but he cut inside Kyle Naughton and
curled a beauty beyond the reach of John Ruddy for his third Premier
League goal of the season.
It was a dream start but Norwich have
proved they are no pushovers this season and they immediately went in
search of an equaliser.
Holt was unlucky to see his goalbound
effort blocked by Kieran Gibbs in the sixth minute, with the visiting
skipper then heading over from Simon Lappin's high cross.
than a minute later, however, Lambert's side did draw level as
Naughton's low cross picked out Hoolahan and his firm side-footed shot
somehow squirmed past an embarrassed Szczesny.
Van Persie had a
golden opportunity to restore Arsenal's lead at the other end but fired
over, while Holt was unlucky to be flagged offside from Simeon Jackson's
clever through ball.
Norwich looked content to try and hit their opponents on the break and that tactic paid dividends in the 27th minute.
quick break saw Hoolahan play in Holt and his shot took a lucky
deflection to loop over Szczesny and into the net for his 16th goal of a
Van Persie was inches away of an immediate
equaliser from Sagna's weighted cross but Arsenal then struggled to
break down Norwich's rearguard effort.
Benayoun was lucky not to
be shown a red card after lashing out at Bradley Johnson off the ball,
while the visitors had two great shouts for penalties that were waved
away by referee Anthony Taylor.
After leaving the pitch to a
chorus of boos, Wenger's side made a slow start to the second period and
should have been punished when Jackson was through on goal but the
Canadian fluffed his lines.
Hoolahan also went close to extending
Norwich's lead with a volley before the introduction of Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Arsenal some much-needed extra impetus.
Persie had wasted two great opportunities to equalise but he made no
mistake when Song's weighted ball into the box picked him out and he
volleyed superbly into the corner of the net.
The Dutchman could
have doubled his tally soon after, although there was a touch of fortune
when he finally did in the 80th minute.
The ball deflected straight into the 28-year-old's path 12 yards out and he swept home past Ruddy to give Arsenal the lead.
though, Norwich weren't prepared to give up the ghost and a brilliant
pass from Jonny Howson played in Morison to dispatch a perfect shot into
the corner of the net.
Wenger's side were stunned but should have
been awarded a penalty late on when Naughton appeared to nudge van
Persie in the back, while the skipper and Song were both denied at the
death by saves from Ruddy.