Christoph Zimmermann

Norwich City holds sloppy Arsenal

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Arsenal needed two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to take a point from Norwich City at Carrow Road, a 2-2 draw which doomed the Gunners to their worst season start since 1975.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The draw comes in the first match after Arsenal fired Unai Emery, as interim boss Freddie Ljungberg oversaw another defensively-challenged performance.

Arsenal needed a number of sensational saves from Bernd Leno to get their point, which leaves them 8th with 19 points.

[ MORE: Ljungberg reacts ]

Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell scored for Norwich City, who sits 19th with their 11th point.


Three things we learned

1. Gunners defense invites Pukki and friends to party: Emery may be gone, but it didn’t instantly fix the Gunners’ defensive woes. Norwich City went ahead when Pukki used a clever change of direction to open up for a perfect Kenny McLean through ball, then watched as the Arsenal backs allowed him to turn and dribble to space for a shot that turned off Chambers and past Leno. The Cantwell goal wasn’t too different, and Bernd Leno was outstanding in denying what could’ve easily been a number of additional goals.

2. VAR denies Krul penalty save: Norwich City goalkeeper Tim Krul has been a penalty-stopping marvel for years, but he was denied his fourth season stop from the spot when VAR spotted his plant leg off the line before he saved Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s effort. Don’t get us wrong: He left his line and this isn’t VAR’s fault as much as it’s the law. In some cases like this, it’s illogical to expect a keeper to hit the line every time unless you make him start inside the goal. Perhaps the idea is to make penalties more automatic, but it’s a tough but correct application from VAR that allowed Arsenal a brief respite.

EDIT: The call was apparently against Max Aarons, who entered the box before Aubameyang’s effort and was the first to touch the rebound. As you were.

3. Cantwell continues to raise profile: Norwich City’s 21-year-old midfielder collected his fourth goal of the season to go with two assists. Born 25 miles from Carrow Road, he’s averaging 1.3 key passes and 1.3 successful dribbles per game in helping the Canaries find, perhaps, their next James Maddison.

Man of the Match: Aubameyang — Saved penalty aside, the Gabonese goal collector gave the Gunners plenty to like (again) in scoring his 52nd and 53rd Arsenal goals (in 82 appearances).


It was mostly Arsenal early, though Onel Hernandez led a 17th minute charge that led to a hard shot directly to Bernd Leno.

Tim Krul produced more brilliance typical of his season with a flying slap of Calum Chambers‘ header.

That’s when Pukki finished Norwich’s lightning counter, calmly turning the ball onto his right foot for a shot that deflected past Leno.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The score line looked set to change within moments, as Mesut Ozil‘s spun free kick was slapped out of the air by Zimmermann.

Krul came off his line to best Aubameyang’s spot kick, and VAR didn’t let the nominal distance sway it: Aubameyang bagged the re-kick despite Krul’s obnoxious hypeman antics on the touch line.

Norwich retook the lead in the second minute of stoppage time, Cantwell scoring for the second-straight match.

Leno continues to perform well for Arsenal under siege, splaying to make a world-class save on McLean at the hour mark.

Farke says VAR failed Norwich City, Zimmermann

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Norwich City manager Daniel Farke‘s team already had a defender fitness problem when Christoph Zimmermann was forced out of an eventual 2-0 to West Ham United on Saturday.

And the boss is wondering what exactly VAR was doing when Zimmermann was hurt by a sliding Sebastien Haller challenge and, in Farke’s mind, hampered in trying to stop Haller’s goal minutes later.

[ RECAP: West Ham 2-0 Norwich ]

“I’m a friend of VAR, but on this day it didn’t work”

While his below comments are entirely accurate — Haller was the scorer of the goal in question, not celebrating atop the scorer — it’s easy to see why Farke is angry as another center back goes for scans.

“This is a game where VAR didn’t work,” Farke said. “There was a nasty tackle against my center back and it wasn’t even given as a free kick. Then a few mins later my center back wasn’t able to spring back and block the cross (on Haller’s goal). My center back is now in hospital. My feeling was this made the difference.

“The only thing I say is that my center back is in hospital and the other player is on the shoulders of the West Ham goalscorer.”

Criticizing every instance of VAR is going to get tiring, and no one wants VAR to be able to call fouls and award yellows — let’s not take that away from the field — but is there a larger point here?

It may not take so long for VAR to get used to the Premier League, remember that the on-field refs are going to have growing pains: Worried about the flow of the game, let alone their own ego after review, it seems we’re in for more fits and starts.

Also don’t forget that this was a comfortable win for West Ham United, who put 8 of its 18 shots on target, and Farke’s required to talk about something after the game. “We were outclassed today” isn’t less fun as a line of reasoning.