City striker Steve Morison let his goal do all the talking this weekend as the Canaries delievered one, final magnificent away performance at The Emirates.
A goal to the good at the break, an enthralling contest looked to be heading Arsenal’s way as Robin van Persie’s double strike put the Gunners within sight of that prized Champions League spot.
But with just five minutes of normal time remaining, so substitute Morison latched onto a smart through-ball from Jonny Howson and, courtesy of the surest of finishes, bagged his ninth Premier League goal of the season and earned City their due reward in that 3-3 draw.
In what has been a difficult season for the 28-year-old – his previous goal came back in mid-January in the 2-1 away win at West Bromwich Albion – his delight at ending such a drought in such dramatic circumstances was wholly understandable.
It was, in many ways, a fitting finale to a pulsating contest; one that, in Paul Lambert’s eyes, even over-shadowed the Easter Monday win at White Hart Lane in terms of City performance.
“What a great game to be involved in,” said the former Millwall man. “A great point in the end – and thoroughly deserved.”
The fact that the point may also have proved one to certain of his detractors clearly added to the sweetness of the moment.
Morison remains just one short of making double figures goals-wise in his first season in the Premier League – that is no mean feat. And who keeps him company on that nine-goal mark? Darren Bent, Gareth Bale and Danny Welbeck.
“We’ll see how many people ring up today on Canary Call and say that I am the worst player ever to wear a Norwich City shirt,” he told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
“So, yes – it’s fantastic. It shuts a few people up and we now go into the last game of the season and see how we get on there.”
When the dust finally settles on this campaign, one of the secrets of Norwich’s success will be the fact that everyone chipped in with goals; the Canaries were not solely reliant on one individual digging them out of trouble in the opposition penalty area.
Were a Morison an Arsenal player, he would be the Gunners’ second top scorer – ahead of Theo Walcott on eight and Mikel Arteta on seven. It is only van Persie’s extraordinary 30-goal haul that has kept them within sight of that Champions League spot.
Morison has also had to deal with the challenge of Grant Holt; the skipper’s 14th goal of the season took him to eighth in the Premier League strikers’ table – one ahead of Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse and still second only to Wayne Rooney in terms of goal-scoring Englishmen.
Whether the pair were ever designed to be natural ‘partners’ remains a moot point; had James Vaughan defied his injury demons, would one of them have been the odd-man out?
Either way, it matters very little now that Norwich are safely embedded in the Premier League for another season.
And still playing the football that kept them there; the season not ending in an untidy heap following those three straight defeats in the run-up to the Gunners game.
“It’s great fun,” said Morison, tongue wedged firmly in cheek as he was quizzed further as to how hard this spring has been on a personal level as the goals and the fortune dried up.
“It’s amazing the things people say and the stories people make up,” he added. “But then people need something to be talk about.”
Grabbing that goal back in front of family and friends on his ‘home’ manor of North London merely added again to the sense of occasion; the footballing fates had waited a while to smile again – but certainly picked their moment for the tides to turn.
“I had a lot of family here because I’m back home in a sense – in North London – and it was great. A fantastic day; a fantastic game; nice to come on and help the team get a point.”
He arrived, of course, just in time to see van Persie go through his party pieces. That, in theory, should have been that. But once again City’s spirit and Arsenal’s porous defending combined to deliver a famous sting in the tale.
“You come on and straight away they score two goals and you think: ‘Oh God…’ But we managed to keep fighting as we have done all season, we get the goal and it’s a good point.”
In every sense of the word, as far as Morison was concerned.
Douglas Millar says
Great to see Moro get his goal and to see Norwich cut through Arsenal as they do so often to other teams. Whether Morison will stay if an attractive offer comes in for him who knows but the quality of his goal will give him confidence and, if necessary, boost his value.
Also I must congratulate Russell Martin on his marshalling of the defence. He is always so calm and talks his fellow defenders through the game. We could do worse than Ryan Bennett and Martin in central defence next season.
Great to see Moro score; ten goals in your first premiership season is an excellent return and I’m sure there’s more to come.