Elliott Bennett

Norwich City 0-2 Arsenal: Norwich make relegation official (video)

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Both Norwich and Arsenal had reasons to make the goals flow. If either side treated the match as simple target practice, notching eighteen or more goals, it could’ve changed their season. Arsenal may have wound up in third place. And, more vitally, Norwich could’ve saved themselves.

The dream was never realistic, but still it was expected that there might be a bit more excitement from this match. Alas, anyone watching was bound to be disappointed.

There were just four shots on target in the first half. With just five minutes gone, Nathan Redmond did make a decent attempt at goal, cutting inside to get past the Arsenal defense. But Lukasz Fabianski was up to the challenge, pushing the swerving shot out of danger.

source: Getty Images
Wilshere returned for Arsenal as the Gunners prepare for the FA Cup final.

John Ruddy, too, had work to do. At the other end, he performed a great reaction save to make sure that Lukas Podolski was unable to score. Later, he rescued a shot from Olivier Giroud that was destined for the top corner of the Norwich net.

In the second half, however, Arsenal were finally able to break down the Canaries’ defense. Giroud, heading down the left, chipped the ball over to where Ramsey was hanging out on the right. Ramsey caught the floated cross on the volley, hammering the ball into the top corner of the net.

If Norwich weren’t already broken, that goal sure seemed to do the trick. Sure enough, less than ten minutes later the visitors had doubled their lead – and Norwich were generous enough to allow the goal to go to Carl Jenkinson. The full back tapped in from close range to score his first goal for Arsenal.

With the Gunners up 2-0, Arsène Wenger decided to have mercy on the team’s supporters and bring off Ramsey, possibly preparing to wrap him in cotton wool until next week’s FA Cup final. In his place came Jack Wilshere, getting his first appearance since early March.

Elliott Bennett, on for Nathan Redmond with fifteen minutes left to go, tried to at least give his side a consolation in extra time. Fabianski refused to play nice, however, and of the 17 goals Norwich needed, they wound up scoring exactly zero.

And so Norwich finish the day in 18th, and will spend next season in the Championship. Arsenal, meanwhile, will go into Champions League qualifying, as they ultimately wind up in 4th.

LINEUPS

Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, R Bennett, Turner, Olsson; Tettey (Loza 58); Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Redmond (E Bennett 76); Elmander (Hooper 58)

Arsenal: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Sagna, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Rosicky (Diaby 74), Ramsey, Ozil, Podolski, Giroud (Sanogo 74)

Goals: Ramsey 53′; Jenkinson 62

Watch Live: Aston Villa vs Norwich City (Lineups and Discuss)

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Since leaving Carrow Road in 2012, Paul Lambert has given his former club fits.

The 44-year-old is unbeaten against Norwich since that time, winning three and drawing one as he looks to put some space between Villa and the relegation zone live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Lambert has a pair of returnees at his disposal, with Ashley Westwood and Ryan Bertrand both back to fitness for the clash at Villa Park, kicking at 11:30am ET.

No surprises in the Villa lineup, as both Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor begin partnered together.  It will likely be the latter feeding the former, as Agbonlahor has enjoyed a revival campaign after a tough season a year ago.

Despite a good few weeks, Marc Albrighton still can’t crack the starting lineup, with Lambert’s teamsheet nearly entirely unchanged from their 1-0 loss to Newcastle week ago.

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The visitors are also looking to put some distance behind them on the relegation battle, but news is not as bright on the injury front. Jonas Gutierrez and Leroy Fer are both out, as are longer-term absentees Michael Turner and Elliott Bennett.

Chris Hughton, who may have saved his job last week with a stunning 1-0 win over Tottenham, has selected Gary Hooper at the head of his attack instead of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who worked incredibly hard in the win a week ago despite not finding the back of the net.

Norwich confirmed that van Wolfswinkel picked up a knee injury in that match, and therefore not in the 18-man squad today.

LINEUPS:

Aston Villa – Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand; Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann; Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Bench – Steer, Sylla, Holt, Clark, Albrighton, Bennett, Robinson.

Norwich City – Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson; Tettey, Johnson; Snodgrass, Hoolahan, Redmond; Hooper.
Bench – Bunn, Whittaker, Howson, Pilkington, Elmander, Becchio, R Bennett.

Watch Live: Norwich vs. Tottenham (Lineups and Discuss)

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A struggling Norwich City will do all they can to hold down the home fort at Carrow Road against a surging Spurs at 11am ET on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

In the crowded bottom half of the table, Norwich City are just a single point from safety in 17th position in the table.

Chris Hughton is struggling with both points and injury.  Johnny Howson makes his return from a back problem to make the bench, but Jonas Gutierrez, Ryan Bennett, Michael Turner, and Elliott Bennett are all out with injury.

Hughton will be fearful of his job if Norwich cannot get a result today, as he’s already been told the board is searching for a potential replacement.

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For Tottenham Hotspur the prospects are much brighter.  They look to keep pace with Liverpool in the chase for fourth place in the table, currently six back of the Reds after their win at Anfield earlier today.

Tim Sherwood has many players back who were rested midweek in the Europa League, including Hugo Lloris, Aaron Lennon, and Emmanuel Adebayor. Kyle Walker is still out however with a niggling injury, with Kyle Naughton deputizing at right-back

LINEUPS:

Norwich – Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson; Tettey, Johnson; Snodgrass, Fer, Redmond; van Wolfswinkel.
Bench – Bunn, Whittaker, Howson, Hooper, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Elmander.

Tottenham – Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Capoue, Bentaleb, Dembele, Paulinho; Lennon, Adebayor.
Bench – Friedel, Fryers, Chadli, Eriksen, Townsend, Kane, Soldado.

Watch Live: Norwich City vs. Newcastle United (Lineups and Discussion)

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Still battling for a spot in Europe, Newcastle United will sport a new look today against visiting Norwich City. At 2:45 ET, the Magpies will play their first match since agreeing to sell Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint-Germain (with the game available to stream on NBC Live Extra).

It’s a blow for Newcastle, if an inevitable one. Cabaye nearly moved this summer, and with teams willing to approach $30 million for the France international, it was only a matter of time until the midfielder moved. With PSG having hit the $33 million mark to bring the former Lille dynamo back to France, Alan Pardew will have to find another way to augment the scoring of Loic Remy up top.

The Magpies enter the day’s match one point back of Manchester United for seventh place, a spot that could prove England’s last entry into UEFA Europa League. Should they fail to adapt to the loss of their best player, Newcastle could settle into mid-table insignificance. The team’s too far from the drop to worry about relegation.

The same can’t be said for Norwich City, though the Canaries have crafted a six-point gap between themselves and 18th. Chris Hughton’s side is coming off a much-needed 1-0 win at Hull City, their first league win since Dec. 7. Make it two in a row, and Norwich could finish the day in the table’s top half.

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To do that, the Canaries will need to find goals, with their 18 on the season ranking 18th in the Premier League. Today, Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel get the call up top. The pair have combined for five goals in 30 appearances this season.

LINEUPS

Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Mathieu Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson, Davide Santon, Cheick Tiote, Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita, Hatem Ben Arfa, Loic Remy, Sammy Ameobi

Subs: Rob Elliot, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara, Paul Dummett, Dan Gosling, Shola Ameobi, Adam Amstrong

Norwich City: John Ruddy, Russell Martin, Ryan Bennett, Sebastien Bassong, MartinOlsson, Robert Snodgrass, Leroy Fer, Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper

Subs: Mark Bunn, Steven Whittaker, Johan Elmander, Javier Garrido, Luciano Becchio, Nathan Redmond, Alex Tettey

Watch Live: Norwich vs. Swansea (Lineups and Discuss)

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Swansea are slowly beginning to climb back up the table to where they feel they belong – into the top half.

They’ll take on hot-and-cold Norwich at 8:30am ET from Carrow Road, live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Four points in their last two games has seen them climb to 10th in the table.  With Michu also having returned from a lengthy injury spell last week, things are looking up for the Swans.

Goalkeeper Michel Vorm has returned after missing last week and announcing he will need knee surgery in January – something he’d hoped to postpone until after the World Cup.

Finally, Angel Rangel also returns from a calf injury that forced him out the last three games.

It’s the opposite for Norwich, who are seriously struggling with a number of injuries.

Striker Ricky van Wolfwinkel was thought to possibly return today from a toe injury, but he still hasn’t made the squad, although Gary Hooper has done well in his absence.  Also out are Anthony Pilkington, Robert Snodgrass, Elliott Bennett, and Alexander Tettey.

LINEUPS:

Norwich Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Olsson; Redmond, Howson, Johnson, Fer, Elmander; Hooper.
Bench – Nash, Martin, Hoolahan, Garrido, Becchio, R Bennett, Josh Murphy.

Swanwea – Vorm; Rangel, Amat, Williams, Davies; Canas, Shelvey, de Guzman, Hernandez, Dyer; Michu.
Bench – Tremmel, Taylor, Tiendalli, Lamah, Routledge, Pozuelo, Bony.