Norwich City gamble fails to pay off for Chris Hughton at Arsenal
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Chris Hughton insists it was worth the gamble to try and salvage a positive Premier League result at table-topping Arsenal.
The Norwich boss introduced both Nathan Redmond and Wes Hoolahan in a bid to build on Jonny Howson's 70th minute lifeline which had threatened to disrupt Arsenal's serene passage to the win following earlier goals from Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil.
But the Gunners' ruthlessly punished City's willingness to push forward with Aaron Ramsey and Ozil beating the impressive John Ruddy in a devastating late riposte from the hosts.
'What happens at 2-1 when we are back in it in those last 15 minutes, I almost have to take responsibility for both the performance and the result because we opened up a bit in that spell,' said Hughton. 'They're decisions that I make. Sometimes as a manager you get them right, sometimes you get them wrong. You either try to get yourself solid and look not to concede again or you try to get that one goal that is going to get you at least a point.
'What you can do is pack midfield and hope you get a few bits of play later in the game but if you change the shape they can always get another goal - in your endeavours to do that a team with the quality of Arsenal can pick you off.
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'We felt on the balance of play we were having some really good attacking moments and maybe we could look to get Wes on the ball in between the holes, but that brings some risk. We went for it here, not so much in the Chelsea game where we just defended poorly for the second goal that day.'
Wilshere's sidefoot finish capped a mesmerising move that prompted Arsene Wenger to label Arsenal's opening goal as 'perfection' but Hughton cast a more critical eye over the Gunners' quartet.
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'I think on the first one there aren't many teams that can score that type of goal, but you always look at any goals you concede and the areas that you could do better,' he said. 'There was bit of fortune off Alex Tettey in the build-up, but the finish is probably a testament to the type of form Arsenal are in. You can defend against that type of goal but it is difficult.
'If I looked at that one, it was from a ball we gave away high up the pitch. We had to be better at that. We saw that in a couple of their goals and Arsenal is extremely good on the counter-attack.
'We have then conceded a really poor goal at a pivotal stage in that second half. That can happen when you are in the ascendancy you can get caught, which we did for the first and second goals. Ramsey's goal is great quality but we have opportunities to clear it and the last one was a cross, and we can do better on that.'
Hughton may have harboured a sense of injustice at the scale of his side's defeat but the Norwich boss is convinced Arsenal can maintain their title push.
'They certainly have got the squad to sustain this,' he said. 'The talk before the game was who would they play, was Ozil injured, was (Santi) Cazorla able to come back with (Bacary) Sagna. They are a side that you know can score goals and if you do that you can win football matches, but overall the biggest disappointment for me is that I don't think 4-1 is a true reflection of the balance of play. People who see this scoreline will perhaps see a different a picture to the reality.'