Arsenal Vs. Norwich City, 2012 Premier League: Visitors Deservedly Lead 2-1 At Halftime

Nowrich City lead Arsenal 2-1 at halftime in today's only Premier League game thanks to goals from Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt, with The Canaries firmly in charge at the Emirates.

Arsenal have had their wobbles at home this season, notably the recent defeat to Wigan Athletic, but as the side look to move closer to securing Champions League football for next season they were handed the perfect start when Israeli international Yossi Benayoun opened the scoring after just two minutes.

It was a lovely strike by Benayoun, cutting in from the left hand side of midfield, onto his right foot and curling the ball beyond John Ruddy into the top corner with just a minute and six second on the clock.

That didn't deter Norwich though, and almost hit back after five minutes when Simeon Jackson charged down the left, cut the ball back to top scorer Grant Holt unmarked in the Arsenal area, but his shot was blocked well by Kieran Gibbs.

Norwich continued to press following Benayoun's opener, and looked the better side. The Canaries got their reward when Wes Hoolahan equalized in the eleventh minute. A nice passing move involving Jonny Howson and Elliott Bennett opened up space for on-loan defender Kyle Naughton to cross for Hoolahan to finish, with a little help however from Wojciech Szczesny.

The Polish international will be very disappointed with his part in the goal as the ball managed to wriggle under him, when it wasn't travelling at any great speed. Very poor indeed.

Norwich continued to press as Arsenal pressed the self-destruct button, and on 26 minutes, Norwich, deservedly, had the lead through Grant Holt.

Arsenal in pressing to retake the lead left themselves horribly exposed at the back, with only two defenders against Norwich's counter attack. Hoolahan fed Holt, who after adjusting his footwork found the back of the net, via the boot of Gibbs which gave the ball a crucial deflection up and over Szczesney.

Arsenal's agony became even worse when Bacary Sagna was forced off on a stretcher in bizarre circumstances on 30 minutes. Stretch for a ball under no pressure, the defender must have suffered a muscular injury as after a hefty stoppage, he was replaced by Francis Coquelin, himself only recently back from a hamstring injury.

Arsenal had a few chances to level though. Robin Van Persie, having a very quiet game was a whisker away from connecting with a cross where he'd have surely leveled, while Gibbs also scuffed wide after good work from Gervinho inside the area.

Arsenal could count themselves lucky on several occasions as the half drew to a close. First of all that they still had eleven men on the pitch when Benayoun kicked out at Bradley Johnson, then later two penalty appeals which were turned down by Anthony Taylor.

The first occurred when Francis Coquelin seemed to get the wrong side of Hoolahan, bringing him to the ground with a sliding challenge. You've seen them given, but for me the Arsenal defender just got enough on the ball to ensure the right call was made.

The second however the referee got horribly wrong. A Naughton cross into the area should have been met by Russell Martin at the front post, if it wasn't for Laurent Koscielny pulling his shirt all over, and very blatantly. It was as they say a stonewaller. Not given.

After the break, Arsenal have to come out much, much better. They seem sluggish, and out of ideas where as Norwich are very good value for their lead.

For more from an Arsenal point of view, check out our Arsenal site, The Short Fuse.

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