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Jonathan Walters scored but was then sent off as Stoke City held Norwich City to a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road in the Premier League on Saturday.

Norwich were hoping to bounce back from their 4-1 defeat by Aston Villa last weekend and took a 56th-minute lead when Bradley Johnson headed in from a Robert Snodgrass free-kick. Walters equalized from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute, but the visitors finished the game with 10 men as he was shown a straight red card less than five minutes later for a high challenge on Alexander Tettey.

Stoke, 1-0 victors over Arsenal in their previous outing, increased the gap between themselves and the relegation zone to six points, with Norwich two points worse off in 15th place. Both sides made one change from their previous outings, with Ricky van Wolfswinkel returning for Norwich after a knee injury and Peter Odemwingie replacing the suspended Charlie Adam for the Potters.

Stoke started the brighter of the two teams, with half-chances falling to Marko Arnautovic and Walters within the first 15 minutes. Despite the away side having more possession, however, it was the Canaries who created the best chance of the first half, with Snodgrass forcing an acrobatic save from goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in the 29th minute after being found by Wes Hoolahan.

The hosts continued to pile on the pressure and record signing Van Wolfswinkel saw a glancing header from a Snodgrass corner flash narrowly wide in the 33rd minute. The second half started frantically for Begovic after a seemingly innocuous shot from Hoolahan squirmed through his hands, forcing the Bosnian to scramble the ball off the line and out for a corner. It was to prove a temporary reprieve, though, as Norwich made their bright start to the second period count when Johnson turned in Snodgrass's free-kick to claim his third goal of the season. 

However, the away side leveled the scores after Sebastien Bassong was adjudged to have fouled on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti and Walters coolly beat John Ruddy from the spot. It was the Republic of Ireland international's fourth league goal of the season, but he went from hero to villain just five minutes later after he was dismissed for a studs-up lunge on Tettey. Despite Norwich's numerical advantage, the home side were unable to make their way through Stoke's resolute defense, with Begovic proving himself equal to a shot from Nathan Redmond.


Arsenal's Premier League title challenge suffered a major setback as they crashed to a shock 1-0 defeat at Stoke following Jon Walters' late penalty on Saturday. Having missed four of his previous six penalties, Republic of Ireland international Walters showed nerves of steel to slot home with 14 minutes remaining after Laurent Koscielny was adjudged to have handled inside the area.

Leaders' Chelsea's victory at Fulham meant the Gunners now trail Jose Mourinho's team by four points as they made the worst possible start to a month manager Arsene Wenger had claimed in the build-up would define their season. Arsenal have now won just once in their last eight trips to the Britannia Stadium and, although this was the first time they had come up against Mark Hughes in the home dugout, the game retained the same feisty edge it became famed for when his predecessor Tony Pulis was in charge.

Gunners striker Olivier Giroud was less than impressed after twice appearing to be trod on -- first by Glenn Whelan and then Charlie Adam -- yet both incidents went unpunished by referee Mike Jones. Wenger's side could have few complaints with the outcome, however, after serving up a sub-standard display which left big question marks hanging over their seemingly faltering title bid.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil returned to the Gunners' squad after recovering from a dead leg, however the Germany international had to settle for a place on the bench and made little impact when introduced in the second half. The win continued Stoke's excellent record at home against the big sides as they made the Gunners their latest scalp, having previously beaten Manchester United and Chelsea and drawn with Manchester City. There is now a six-point cushion between them and the relegation zone.

Wenger Admits the Stoke Defeat was Major Blow for Arsenal

There has certainly been no love lost between these clubs since the controversial Ryan Shawcross challenge four years ago which left Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey with a broken leg. Despite Ramsey's absence, it was soon clear the incident was far from forgotten by both sets of supporters as they fervently voiced support for their respective player.

Events on the pitch failed to match the intensity on display in the stands in the early stages and, even when the game's first noteworthy moment came along in the 15th minute, Walters's glancing header which crept agonizingly past the post was adjudged offside. The visitors' first opening arrived three minutes later when Santi Cazorla created space for himself on the edge of the penalty area only to curl over the crossbar.


Stoke City forward Jon Walters has criticized the Premier League's jam-packed year-end fixture schedule after his side had to play two away games in four days. Matches come thick and fast in England during the festive period, but whereas some clubs benefited from back-to-back home games, a number of teams had to play away from home twice.

West Bromwich Albion travelled to Tottenham Hotspur and then West Ham United on December 26 and 28, while Southampton had to visit Cardiff City and Everton. Stoke's fans, meanwhile, had to make a 700-mile (1125-kilometre) round trip to take in the 5-1 defeat at Newcastle United on Thursday and Sunday's 3-0 reverse at Tottenham Hotspur.

"Got to say fair play to all the Stoke fans who travelled to both away games at Christmas time and never stopped singing! #hardcore," Walters wrote on Twitter. "Also a big well done to whoever sorted out the fixtures over this period! It was nice for every team who were at home on the 26th to be home again on the 28th/29th.

"That's a fair way of doing things for fans and players alike who have to travel length and breadth of the country at Christmas time!!"

This season, Premier League clubs have been obliged to play four times in the space of 12 days over the Christmas period, prompting complaints from managers.

Manuel Pellegrini, manager of Manchester City, said the schedule was "not normal", while Hull City manager Steve Bruce said that asking teams to play twice in the space of 48 hours was "ridiculous".

The English Premier League is the only major European championship not to observe a winter break.