Arsenal suffered a major blow in their Champions League hopes as Norwich snatched a share of the points in a six goal thriller.

Yossi Benayoun opened the scoring with just a minute on the clock, but the Israeli’s curling strike was soon cancelled out by Wes Hoolahan’s tame finish.

Norwich skipper Grant Holt deservedly put the visitors ahead before the break. After the interval PFA player of the season Robin Van Persie struck twice to rescue Arsenal, but a late Morison equaliser dented Arsenal’s Champions league hopes.

With barely a minute on the clock Yossi Benayoun opened the scoring giving the Gunners a perfect start. Benayoun gathered the ball on the left, cut inside and fired a wonderful curling strike past the helpless Ruddy.

Many would have predicted Arsenal to push on and score a second, instead Norwich responded and within 10 minutes were level. On loan defender Kyle Naughton bombed down the left hand side before cutting the ball back to Wes Hoolahan on the penalty spot, the Irish midfielder scuffed his shot but somehow it squirmed under Szczesny leveling the match.

Norwich continued to press as Arsenal looked rattled. Grant Holt’s physical presence was a constant threat and with 27 minutes on the clock the Norwich skipper scored. Hoolahan this time turned provider releasing Holt, whose shot was deflected off the boot of Gibbs and looped over Szczesny giving the Canaries a much deserved lead silencing the Emirates.

As Norwich continued to dominate, Arsenal became increasingly frustrated, birthday boy Yossi Benayoun was lucky to escape when he kicked out at Simon Lappin and then Coquelin looked to have blatantly fouled Hoolahan in the penalty area but referee Taylor waved away the Norwich protests.

Just minutes later Taylor was again in the spotlight . This time Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny clearly tugged at Russell Martin’s shirt as the defender attempted to attack a Norwich corner, but yet again Taylor and his officials waved away the protests.

After the interval Arsenal played with more intent and purpose, but it was Norwich who came close to increasing the lead. Jackson skipped past Thomas Vermaelen but his strike was comfortably saved.

Van Persie then had a chance to level the game, but his tame strike was easily saved by Ruddy and then Aaron Ramsey dragged a shot wide before being replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Arsenal’s dominance eventually paid off. Alex Song’s creative diagonal ball across the box was volleyed home by Arsenal’s talisman Van Persie to level the game.

Spurred on by the Arsenal faithful the home side continued to dominate and went in search of a winner. Van Persie had another volley saved by Ruddy and then the Dutchman scored what he thought was a winner. The ball ricocheted across the box and fell to Van Persie whose strike just about beat Ruddy sending the Arsenal fans in to ecstasy.

But Norwich were not dead a berried, and some cunning direct play saw Morison sprint through one on one with Szczesny and the midfielder calmly slotted the ball home snatching a late equalizer for the travelling Canaries, and much deserved.

With seconds remaining John Ruddy denied Van Persie a third with a fantastic block and then Arsenal were denied a clear cut penalty when Naughton shoved Van Persie in the back as the Dutchman looked certain to convert a back post tap in. But Norwich survived and fully deserved their point, which summed up their fantastic season. As for Arsenal their hopes of Champions League qualification was again taken out of their hands as Tottenham and Newcastle lurk just two points behind with both teams playing tomorrow.


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