Saturday 18 November 2017

Republic pair catch Trap's eye

Norwich 1
Arsenal 0

Sachin Nakrani at Carrow Road

Thrashed by Liverpool and Chelsea in their last two matches, Norwich were given little hope of avoiding another humbling as they prepared to face another of the Premier League's stellar names.

Yet on a raucous evening in East Anglia, the hosts beat Arsenal to record their first win of the season and give manager Chris Hughton the sense that he is finally emerging from the imposing shadow of his predecessor here, Paul Lambert.

Grant Holt's strike midway through the first half has eased the pressure on Hughton, whose side had racked up just three points from their opening seven games of this campaign.

Given they came into this contest having lost their last three league games, conceding 10 goals in the process, Norwich could have been forgiven for starting in a tentative, cautious manner.

The hosts were, however, quick out of the blocks and created the first chance on goal, Republic of Ireland under-21 international Anthony Pilkington hitting a fierce, low drive from the edge of the Arsenal area that sped just wide.

The visitors soon found their composure, however, and nearly scored themselves when Gervinho intercepted a poorly directed kick from John Ruddy, the Norwich goalkeeper, and played in Lukas Podolski, who was prevented from testing Ruddy by a well-timed sliding tackle from Russell Martin.

That should have been the cue for Arsenal to go on and take command of proceedings but, to their credit, Norwich regained the initiative, passing the ball with composure in central midfield and using Pilkington, stationed on the left wing, as a regular outlet. And it was from that side that the hosts scored the all-important goal on 19 minutes, with the ball played across the pitch to Alex Tettey, who ran into space and hit a low, right-footed shot towards goal that Mannone should have claimed easily but instead spilt into the path of Grant Holt. The striker could not fail to score from close range and secure his third goal in three games.

Norwich continued to show the intent which had seen them take the lead with Wes Hoolahan putting in an increasingly composed, incisive display in a position just off the hosts' lone-striker. The watching Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni must have been impressed by what he was seeing.

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