Reading, West Ham, Ipswich Town, Middlesbrough, Bradford City, Wigan Athletic, Hull City and Birmingham City. There. A list of teams afflicted by a curious case of "second-season syndrome", included regardless of whether or not they were relegated from the Premier League.
Of course, to experience second-season syndrome it necessarily follows that the first season must have been all right. So every cloud, etc. Better to have the memories!
And what memories Norwich have from last season. Following two successive promotions, they finished 12th in swashbuckling style, they scored goals for fun, they drew at Arsenal and Liverpool and they beat Tottenham in one of the performances of the season. Grant Holt was seriously being discussed as England material. Let's just say he's not any more.
The main reason for the slump is pinned on the departure of Paul Lambert in the summer. It's not the worst theory about. His replacement, Chris Hughton, has struggled to replicate last season's success so far and after seven games, Norwich are without a win and one point off the bottom of the table. Only fives goals scored. Seventeen conceded. It's not going to plan. Bloody second-season syndrome.
They're probably not best pleased to see Santi Cazorla's Arsenal pitching up at Carrow Road then. Especially as Norwich haven't beaten them here since 1984. Arsenal are unbeaten on their travels this season and were mightily impressive in their last two away matches, drawing against Manchester City and winning at Sam Allardyce's West Ham. They remain a work in progress but are starting to click up front. For all the chuckling about Olivier Giroud, the mockery ignores the signs that he looks like a proper player. How else to explain becoming the first player to score a goal against Spain since 1973?
Norwich: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Hoolahan, Tettey, Elliott Bennett, Johnson, Pilkington; Holt. Subs: Rudd, Snodgrass, Howson, Jackson, Surman, Morison, R Bennett.
Arsenal: Mannone; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos; Arteta, Ramsey; Gervinho, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud. Subs: Martinez, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Djourou, Coquelin, Arshavin, Gnabry.
Referee: Lee Probert.
An email. "Have you got any plans to dress up for Halloween this year?" says JR in Illinois. "I never do but this year I am thinking of going as Mark Clattenburg. You'd think it would be easy enough, just put on some black shorts and a shiny yellow shirt. I have a couple potential problems though. Problem one: I would guess that there are only about 100 people in the
U.S. who know who Mark Clattenburg is. Problem two (and related to problem one): How am I meant to get his hairdo right? Since no one here knows who he is it's not like I can just walk into the barber shop and say "Give me the Clattenburg". Any suggestions on how to mimic his hair would be appreciated."
1. No. I don't think I have ever dressed up for Halloween. It's not very Jewish. I'm all about Purim.
2. An industrial amount of hair gel.
The big team news is that Jack Wilshere is back on the Arsenal bench, which means that England have immediately been installed as favourites for the World Cup.
"I would love to dress up as my hero Jose Mourinho for Halloween," says Shooby Taylor. "Any suggestions on how a shy & pasty Irish man could pull this off would also be welcome." In the current climate, I'll not be offering any advice.
Here come the teams. Norwich in their bright yellow shirts and green shorts, Arsenal in their red shirts and white shorts. There's Delia clapping in the crowd. It's a late kick-off. She's had a long time to get comfortable, which is the beauty of going to a game at this hour. Let's hope she's not... y'know.
Here we go. Norwich, kicking from left to right, get us underway. They take three seconds to give the ball back to Arsenal, which is actually quite impressive. Take a bow, Norwich.
2 min: Norwich are on the attack straight away. Pilkington cuts back on the left flank and curls a cross into the area towards Hoolahan. Mannone comes off his line but Mertesacker takes control of the situation, heading it away. But Norwich continue to impress, Hoolahan finding space on the edge of the area and firing in a low shot that Mannone watches go wide of the left post. A purposeful start from the home side.
3 min: But immediately they demonstrate their frailty in defence. Ruddy spanks a clearance straight at Gervinho, who finds Podolski clean through on goal. He just takes too long to get the ball out from under his feet though and Martin steams across to concede a corner, which comes to nothing.
4 min: Podolski looks to have his gameface on. Santos slips a pass down the left channel for him. His first touch takes him away from Turner, whose marking was slack, and with his left he whips a vicious, swerving effort inches past Ruddy's far post from the left side of the area. What an effort. The power in that left foot.
6 min: Arsenal have the ball. They have had it for some time. There could be a lot of this.
7 min: Arsenal still have the ball.
8min 03sec: Jenkinson is caught offside. Norwich have the ball!
8min 30sec: Arsenal have it back.
9 min: The home fans don't seem to be very up for this. Maybe they could do with a few Pro Pluses. I did find that story strange actually. Pro Plus never seemed to have much of an effect on anyone at university.
10 min: Vermaelen slides a pass down the left for Giroud to chase. He's held up by Bassong though and forced away from goal, before eventually losing possession. The ball is hoofed up to Holt, who wins a timely free-kick off the foolish Ramsey. Which was for the best, because Holt is so isolated without a partner at the moment. Norwich seem quite content to sit back and try to hit Arsenal on the break.
12 min: Cazorla skips away from Johnson and then pings a pass out of touch, looking for Podolski on the left. You won't see that happen too often this evening.
14 min: A long diagonal free-kick comes to Martin at the far post. He hammers an inviting cross across the face of goal, but not one Norwich player had bothered joining him in the area. Dearie me. A bit of ambition please! "I have an idea for how Mr. Taylor could pull off a Mourinho costume: Just get a set of red horns for his head and a red tail for his
backside and carry a pitchfork around with him," says JR.
16 min: If you put a gun to my head and asked me which team is going to score, I'd probably make like Leonardo Bonnuci and leave you on the floor. But I'd also say Arsenal, even though their possession has been edging towards the sterile domination Arsene Wenger turns his nose up. Norwich have been rather supine.
GOAL! Norwich 1-0 Arsenal (Holt, 20 min): The commentator's curse strikes again. This has to go down as a bad mistake by Vito Mannone, who also erred at Manchester City last month. Tettey was allowed too much time to line up a shot from 25 yards out. His shot was hit firmly but was straight down the middle and instead of pushing it to the side, Mannone reacted too slowly and parried it out in front of him. Holt got to the rebound before Mertesacker and could hardly miss from three yards out. Holt for England. Arsenal also conceded at a similar stage at West Ham two weeks ago and came back to win 3-1, mind you.
21 min: Arsenal go close to finding an instant equaliser, but Giroud's glancing header from Cazorla's corner is straight at Ruddy.
23 min: Norwich smell blood. Martin drills a low cross-shot towards the far post and Mertesacker has to hack clear with Holt lurking.
24 min: Johnson is booked for a crude lunge on Cazorla. That's one way to stop him. It's only Norwich's third booking this season.
26 min: Mannone is all over the place at the moment. Hoolahan overhits a through-ball intended for Holt, but although Mannone should claim it, he's too tentative, allowing the striker to reach the pass and turn the ball back across the area, demanding a crucial clearance from Jenkinson with the goal vacant. Arsenal are yet to respond to going behind.
27 min: "All this talk of dressing up has made me, and one imagines many another MBMer, wish I'd order those replica Anakin Skywalker robes when I was still svelte (ish) enough to fit into them," says Ryan Dunne. "Re: dressing up. I can remember Mourinho's interview for a Braun shaver ad, where he pointed out that "I'm either not shaved or shaved well. Never badly shaved" so Shooby might want to try that, coupled with an expensive coat. As for your own dillemma, surely it's acceptable, shunning devil costumes or drag, to dress up as a notable Jewish person? You could have Woody Allen (glasses), Larry David (bald wig), Einstein (funny moustache, wig) , Noah (beard, loincloth) etc etc. The possibilities are endless!"
I admit it, I just don't like fancy dress. I thought you'd leave me alone if I brought religion into it.
29 min: Gervinho's deflected shot squirms through to Giroud, whose volley is smothered by Ruddy. He was an inch offside anyway.
31 min: Arsenal force a couple of corners in quick succession. But they're not doing a great deal. They need something to spark them because Norwich look surprisingly comfortable. Podolski, Gervinho and Cazorla aren't really in the game.
34 min: Martin hurtles down the right flank and sees his cross deflected behind for a corner. Pilkington whips it to the far post and Turner arrives to nut miles wide from six yards out. That is a shocking miss and could prove so costly. Norwich should lead 2-0. They might do sooner or later if Arsenal continue to defend as abjectly as this though. Where was the marking?
36 min: "You don't like fancy dress?" says Robin Hazlehurst, who's busting chops today. "You don't like to fantasise that you are someone are not and leave your sad pathetic little life behind for the duration of a party, or at least for as long as it takes the kicking to stop at the bus stop just outside your house? And yet you are writing an MBM on a Saturday night... How did you sneak in here, are you really one of us?"
You can mock me all you want but after this I'm going home to pack some bags and fly away to somewhere hot.
37 min: "Did Cazorla just take a corner on his weaker foot?" asks Maxi Krause. Like a Paul Scholes tackle, he's two-footed.
38 min: Arteta swings a free-kick to the far post. It finds Gervinho all alone on the left. He tries to volley it goalwards and succeeds only in producing a comical air kick, the ball hitting his standing leg and clattering out for a goal-kick. I know he scored a few goals recently but he's not actually very good at football, is he?
40 min: Podolski scampers in behind to reach a ball over the top but Ruddy is on hand to boot clear. Arsenal are still a bit flat. "When I was a kid, my dad spent his whole Saturday making a milk-bottle fancy dress outfit out of some kind of industrial cardboard barrel, with a foil top and "your daily pinta" stencilled on the side," says Simon Frank. "Come the big day I couldn't bring myself to wear it, and sat in the car weeping. It was the first time I remember getting my own way. My older sister wore the same costume the following week and won her competition. Life lessons."
44 min: Gervinho finally beats a defender, skittering past Martin on the left but his poked cross is knocked behind for a corner, which Cazorla plonks straight into Ruddy's hands. Arsenal are dominating but they're really struggling to create anything worthwile.
45 min: "Right, Dunne, you've already brought the travesty that was Episode III into one live blog, lets not go there again," says Matt Dony. "Episodes IV, V and VI were the glorious, exciting first season. Heady highs, a swagger, wilful abandon. However, Episodes I, II and III were the ill-fated second season. Carried away with own success, lazy, and ultimately an embarrassment to their own history." Like Norwich.
45 min+2: A corner for Norwich in the second of the one minute that was added on. Nothing comes of it and that's the cue for the half-time whistle.
Half time: Norwich 1-0 Arsenal. Norwich have a lead at half time for the first time this season and are 45 minutes away from their first league win. Arsenal have been poor.
Apparently Arsenal flew to Norwich from Luton. And you thought George Osborne was bad.
46 min: Arsenal get the second half going. Neither side has made any changes. "Pro plus never had any effect on anyone at Uni-??" says J Willough. "Huh? I once stayed awake for two whole nights at the end of one term by popping multiple ProPlus to finish a project that I'd, er, forgotten to work on at all during the previous three weeks. By the end of this I was twitching, hallucinating and needing to pee every five minutes. My friend drove me home for the hols, and on the way I asked him to stop in the middle of the
countryside so I could take a leak in the field. Apparently that's when the ProPlus wore off, as I never came back. He found me asleep in the field, unzipped, in a pool of my own urine, and apparently it was a devil of a job to get me back to the car without me dropping off again." It had no effect on me. That's the main thing.
47 min: Arsenal have the ball. "Arsenal flew from London to Norwich!" exclaims Alex Hanton. "How do they plan to get to White Hart Lane for the next Spurs game? Charter the QE2 and sail it up the river?"
49 min: Norwich are being pinned back already but Arsenal have not got in behind yet. "That flying nonsense never would've happened in Bergkamp's days," parps @tresdessert on Twitter.
50 min: Garrido dinks a lovely cross towards the far post. For a moment it looks like Holt has the run on Santos but the Brazilian does well to ease the big striker away from the ball, else it surely would have been a second goal for Norwich. "On my last day of school we had an Emergency Services themed fancy dress pub-crawl," says Benedict Simmons. "One of my friends was the one guy who turns up in his leather jacket and jeans but comes along to get sloshed anyway. He was also the kind of guy who made me wait for him to finish his pint and cigarette at one pub well after everyone else had buggered off. With me not knowing the crawl route he takes me to the wrong pub for the next stage and forces me to play a game of horrendously embarrassing pool dressed as a ghostbuster complete with water gun before we move to the real pub. Never again."
52 min: Gervinho finds Jenkinson on the overlap. Ruddy flaps at his cross but Giroud's weak overhead kick dribbles well wide with the Norwich goal empty. Ruddy, normally so composed, got away with one there. "Arsenal flew Luton to Norwich?" says Tim Whelan. "Did Chelsea fly Heathrow to Stansted?"
53 min: Maybe Arsenal are jetlagged.
54 min: Anthony Pilkington is booked for playing on after being flagged offside. He claims he couldn't hear over the din but Lee Probert is having none of it.
56 min: "All these reminiscences are fascinating, but any news of the actual game?" asks Keith Smith. Ok. Mertesacker has the ball. He oasses it to Arteta. Back to Mertesacker... and now Mannone has it. He's still got it. Still got it. STILL GOT IT!! Ok, now he's kicked it up field. Norwich have it. Back to Arsenal though. But they're not going anywhere at the moment. All a bit slow. And that's enough of that.
57 min: "Get a life losers, you'd all fly to Norwich if you could afford it," says Bernard Keenan. A quick search suggests that it would cost £19 to fly from London to Norwich.
58 min: GET A LIFE LOSERS! LOL! ROFLMAO!
59 min: Holt charges through the middle - where are the Arsenal midfielders - before the ball breaks to the left for Pilkington. It looks like he's going to sneak through but he's denied by an excellent challenge. No matter, Norwich continue to pour forward. A high cross comes all the way to the far post but Holt can't react quickly enough to Hoolahan's cushioned pass.
60 min: Johnson cracks one high and wide from the edge of the area. Arsenal are doing absolutely bugger all. It's very strange. This has probably been their worst performance of the season by some distance. I'm tempted to label it complacent.
62 min: Grant Holt is booked for dissent. Up the other end, Giroud gets between his markers and heads to Gervinho, who nods straight at Ruddy from the edge of the area. "Now I understand why your address has the word 'casual' in it," honks Keith Smith.
64 min: "Does that GBP 19 fare London-Norwich include allowance for extra weight from luggage, egos, etc.?" asks Lou Roper.
65 min: Lukas Podolski, who faded very quickly after a bright start, is replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal need something - anything - to lift them.
66 min: But this isn't what they need. Oxlade-Chamberlain is hobbling after his very first run. He did take quite a buffeting from Pilkington along the way, so we'll not question what he was doing in his warm-up.
67 min: Gervinho cuts the ball back from the byline but finds a yellow shirt. Arsenal need more men in the box. They're almost sleepwalking to defeat here. "There are no motorways in Norfolk and Suffolk," lies Harry Tuttle. "True facts."
69 min: It's just a lot of midfield nothingness at the moment. Far too scrappy for Arsenal's liking. There has been no flow to the game at all in the second half, which suits Norwich just fine. "I've just dropped into the MbM to see how Carzola is doing," says Ken Mulumbi. "Clearly nothing much."
71 min: Cazorla pushes a pass through the middle for Giroud, who's taken out by Turner in exceedingly clumsy fashion 25 yards from goal in a central position. He's booked, despite trying to make out he's injured. Nice try. No dice. Giroud felt that one too, but he should be fine.
72 min: Cazorla's tame free-kick is straight at Ruddy. "Wait, if it's only £19 to fly from London to Norwich, and Arsenal are famously the most expensive UK team to follow, then does that mean that a London-based Arsenal season ticket holder who switched their allegiances to Norwich and flew to every home game would actually SAVE money?!" points out Ryan Dunne. "Man alive."
73 min: Holt knocks the ball around Mertesacker on the halfway line. The German handles it but advantage is played and Holt races forward, ignores options to the left and right and then slices a shot well wide from long range.
74 min: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's outing has lasted all of nine minutes. He limps off injured and is replaced by Andrey Arshavin. Remember him? That hasn't always been one of the most popular substitutions among Arsenal fans.
76 min: There's a way to go yet but this has been such a nothing performance by Arsenal. What a puzzling season they're having. For all the talk of a title challenge, a defeat here would leave them in mid-table.
77 min: "£19 with which airline?" asks Johny B. What do you think this is, a price comparisons website? "I'm flying in to London from Italy in a couple of weeks and this is sounding like the budget option.
As for the game, proceeding nicely. To think that just a few days I ago I had a bit of a falling out with my dad after he kept offering to get me tickets for Norwich Stoke. Still, plenty of time for Arsenal to knock in the odd three or four before the close."
79 min: The impish Robert Snodgrass replaces Elliott Bennett.
81 min: Grant Holt gets ideas above his station as he races clear after a mistake in midfield by Arsenal and then tries to chip Mannone from the edge of the area. The ball gets about two feet off the air. Dear lord, that was terrible. Some players should just hit it.
82 min: Arsenal counter and Cazorla's effort from 25 yards out is deflected wide. Vermaelen sends a harmless header wide from the resulting corner. The response is to replace the anonymous Aaron Ramsey with the 17-year-old, Serge Gnabry.
83 min: After Giroud has a swing and a miss at a volley, Gnabry drags a low shot wide with his very first touch in an Arsenal shirt. He claims a corner, but Norwich are awarded a goal-kick. The boy's not short of confidence then. "Obviously Arsene's hairdryer got lost by the airline," says Christopher Price.
85 min: Arsenal's first two goals against West Ham came from counters and when they were allowed to run at an exposed defence, using their speed on the break. But Chris Hughton's tactics have been spot on. I can't remember Arsenal being allowed to do that at all this evening. Norwich have been so cautious and have attacked when it suits them, but it looks like paying off.
86 min: Arteta skims a low drive off the wet surface from the edge of the area but Ruddy does extremely well to hold the shot. Arsenal are pushing forward but Norwich are hardly hanging on.
88 min: There's a stoppage in play while Alex Tettey gets treatment for an injury. Norwich are down to 10 men for the time being.
89 min: What a challenge by Sebastien Bassong! Gnabry slips a wonderful pass through to Gervinho, who's been left all alone by the Norwich defence on the right of the area. He sizes up his options and lets fly, only for Bassong to throw himself in front of the ball, preserving Norwich's lead. Brilliant defending. Arsenal have a corner but before they can take it, Steve Morison replaces Grant Holt.
90 min: There will be five minutes of Wenger Time. Arsenal are just planning to fling the ball in the box now. Norwich are enduring some hairy moments, Ruddy not exactly covering himself in glory, but they just about deal with two corners.
90 min+3: Ryan Bennett replaces Wes Hoolahan. Norwich are so close now. Arsene Wenger has the face on.
Robert HuthPer Mertesacker is playing up front. Needs must in a time of crisis. Giroud knocks a long ball down to the edge of the area and Gnabry arrives on the scene to slice a dismal volley high, wide and not very handsome. Arsenal's shooting has been awful.
90 min+5: Cazorla fires over from 30 yards out. The Norwich fans exhale. That should be it.
Full time: Norwich 1-0 Arsenal. And that is it! The full time whistle goes to a huge roar in Carrow Road! Chris Hughton finally has his first league win as a Norwich manager and what a game to get it in. They've only gone and beaten Arsenal, lifting themselves out of the bottom three in the process. Football, eh? Norwich's tactics were spot on, restricting Arsenal's space in the final third and protecting John Ruddy's goal with ease. Grant Holt's winner, secured after a mistake by Vito Mannone, is enough to see off a desperately sluggish Arsenal side. The title challenge can wait for now: they're eighth. Thanks for reading. Bye.