English Premiership

Sanchez, Koscielny injured in Arsenal stalemate

2015-11-29 20:52
Alexis Sanchez (Getty Images)
Alexis Sanchez (Getty Images)

Norwich - Arsenal saw star man Alexis Sanchez and centre-back Laurent Koscielny forced off by injury during Sunday's 1-1 draw at Norwich City in the Premier League.

The Gunners had hoped to move level on points with leaders Manchester City, but instead find themselves in fourth place, two points off the pace and also below Leicester City and Manchester United.

And their chances of closing that gap will diminish should either player be ruled out long-term, with Chile forward Sanchez in particular an early contender for the league's Player of the Season awards.

The pair appear set to join an absentee list that already includes Mikel Arteta, Francis Coquelin, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky.

It has all added up to a disappointing November domestically for Arsene Wenger's side.

They may have kept their hopes of Champions League progress alive on Tuesday with victory over Dinamo Zagreb, but they accumulated just two Premier League points over the month.

An early Sanchez effort fizzed just wide at Carrow Road, but Arsenal's troubles began straight afterwards when centre-back Koscielny was hurt as Lewis Grabban challenged him.

On came Gabriel in the 11th minute as Koscielny trudged slowly round the perimeter of the pitch clutching his right hip.

Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy did well to beat away a Sanchez drive, but when Gary O'Neil failed to control the goalkeeper's scuffed clearance, it allowed Sanchez to slip in Ozil on the left of the box.

The German dinked the ball over Ruddy sublimely to give Arsenal the lead on the half-hour mark.

Arsenal may have been fortunate that referee Jon Moss saw nothing amiss in Mathieu Flamini's barging over of Wes Hoolahan just inside their penalty area as the two contested a throw-in.

Wenger must have been concerned when Ozil tumbled into a pit for press photographers behind one goal and Sanchez into a similar structure where a television camera and its operator were stationed.

Both players were able to clamber out and continue, but Sanchez would not remain on the pitch for much longer.

Visiting goalkeeper Petr Cech was forced into his first save four minutes before the break as Robbie Brady let fly, but Norwich's second attempt on target, a minute later, saw him beaten.

Grabban, who had refused to play in a League Cup tie in September after a move to Bournemouth collapsed, turned Gabriel to convert Brady's piercing pass from six yards.

Hoolahan should have put Norwich ahead in first-half stoppage time when Andre Wisdom's cross found him at the back post, but he fired over with the goal at his mercy.

The second period began with another Arsenal man hurt, Santi Cazorla this time, and in the process of fouling O'Neil. He was able to continue after treatment.

Ruddy's woes continued as he misjudged a bouncing ball under pressure from Olivier Giroud.

That let in Ozil again, but his shot was deflected over at the last moment.

Cazorla became the first man in the book for an obvious dive before Sanchez was hurt hurdling Ryan Bennett's challenge in the Norwich box and hobbled off holding his right hamstring to be replaced by Joel Campbell.

Norwich scented victory and Cech had to make a smart save to stop Gabriel recording an own goal, with Jonny Howson hooking over from the resulting corner.

Home manager Alex Neil immediately sent on winger Nathan Redmond to add to the impetus.

Giroud headed a passable chance over as time began to run out Arsenal, who were grateful for Gabriel preventing a Norwich tap-in at the other end.

A cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who returned from injury to replace Aaron Ramsey, only just eluded Campbell in front of goal, but Arsenal had to settle for a point.

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