A late goal from Steve Morison helped Norwich secure a hard-fought 3-3 draw away to Arsenal, condemning the hosts to two costly dropped points in Arsene Wenger’s 900th match in charge.
Yossi Benayoun opened the scoring in the second minute to celebrate his 32nd birthday in style but 10 minutes later, Wes Hoolahan punished Wojciech Szczesny’s sloppiness to equalize for the Canaries.
In the 27th minute, the Gunners paid the price for a bit of collective sloppiness when Grant Holt slipped in behind the defense and got plenty of space to tuck home a massive go-ahead goal that took a deflection off Kieran Gibbs.
The match turned a bit fiesty after Holt’s strike, with players from both sides banging heads at multiple occasions and also complaining about controversial officiating more than once.
Norwich players were left fuming when Francis Coquelin’s last-minute tackle inside the box was deemed to be clean. Replays suggested that the call could have gone either way as there was slight contact involved.
At the stroke of half-time, the visitors’ frustrations compounded further when Laurent Koscielny went unpunished for blatant shirt-pulling inside the penalty area.
Nevertheless, Paul Lambert’s men hung on to their 2-1 advantage until the 72nd minute, when Arsenal captain Robin van Persie took over.
Van Persie, recently chosen as the PFA Player of the Year, latched on to Alex Song’s brilliant chipped pass to slide the ball past John Ruddy for a massive equalizer.
Just eight minutes later, the Dutchman was on target again, slamming past Ruddy from close range to cap a remarkable turn-around for his side.
However, the three points were not meant to be there for the Gunners as Morison’s powerful finish from an acute angle brought the scores level again in the 85th minute.
The Gunners’ second half resurgence was also marred by a shocking penalty denial as Simon Lappin’s clear hand-ball inside the area was overlooked by the officials.
All said and done, the result leaves Arsenal only two points clear of Tottenham and Newcastle, who both have a game in hand tomorrow against Aston Villa and Manchester City, respectively.
Potential wins for both the Spurs and the Magpies would unexpectedly force the Gunners into fifth place and the worst part for the Arsenal faithful is that Wenger’s men now have no control over their own destiny.