The return of the English Premier League was a happy occasion for most, but some would’ve probably hoped for the cancellation of the whole campaign. Promoted this season from the Championship, Norwich City has struggled mightily throughout the season and the financially handicapped, comparatively speaking, club has failed make an impact in the top flight making the dead last spot their own.
Just before the abrupt pause due to the pandemic, Norwich had gained some much needed momentum by beating Leicester in the EPL and Tottenham in the FA Cup, before narrow and hard-fought loss to Sheffield United. The return to action has been difficult, to say the least, despite Norwich starting off with a three-game home stand. First game back Norwich hosted Southampton at Carrow Road, but managed only one shot on goal during the 90+ minutes and Southampton walked out unscathed with 0-3 victory. Inefficiency in the attacking end defensive errors led to an embarrassing result.
Despite a decent defensive performance in the next game against Everton, again Norwich struggled offensively, which resulted in another one-shot-on-goal-game and a narrow but justified 0-1 defeat. The defense played the leading role once again in the FA Cup tie against Manchester United and Norwich managed to keep the Red Devils well at bay, taking the game to the extra time with 1-1 tie after 90 minutes. United’s Harry Maguire then finished Norwich off on the eleventh hour, two minutes before the end of extra time.
Traveling to Emirates to visit Arsenal after three consecutive losses was not the most encouraging of premises, despite Arsenal’s lackluster season. The hosts had beaten Southampton 0-2, after receiving a 3-0 beating at Manchester City and succumbing to a 2-1 loss at Brighton after the break. Norwich got their chances early on, with Ben Godfrey rattling the woodwork with a fierce long range effort, but that’s all she wrote. After a massive error by goalkeeper Tim Krul, Arsenal took the lead by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 50th EPL goal on the 37th minute. Granit Xhaka piled on the Canaries misery only three minutes later with a close range shot. Norwich’s Kenny McLean then forced Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez to work by sending a curling free-kick towards the top corner of the net, but Martinez did well to punch the ball out of harm’s way.
In the second half Norwich had a penalty claim turned down by VAR, but no question was left which team deserved the win. After another misplaced pass in the defensive end by Norwich player, Aubameyang scored his second of the night and Cedric Soares then finished Norwich off by making it 4-0 on the 81st minute – following a missed clearance by Norwich defense. Alarmingly three of Arsenal’s four goals were unassisted, or rather assisted by a Norwich player.
The Canaries are now seven points deep in the relegation zone with seven games left to go. The route ahead gets somewhat easier for Norwich, who are facing Brighton on 4th of July, followed by do-or-die fixtures against other relegation candidates Watford and West Ham.