Alex Neil talks to his players
Alex Neil praises players effort despite 1-0 defeat at Arsenal.Getty Images

Norwich manager Alex Neil is confident the Canaries can avoid relegation to the Championship despite a "disappointing" 1-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday (30 April) which left them two points away from safety with three games left. The boss, meanwhile, revealed that Ryan Bennett missed the visit to the Emirates Stadium due to illness.

Neil's side had a couple of good chances to take the lead during the first half of the game, but Nathan Redmond was denied twice by Petr Cech. Danny Welbeck turned the match around in the second half by scoring the only goal of the game, just three minutes after replacing Alex Iwobi.

"I think if we maybe took one of our really good chances we made in the first half, it might have been a different game," Neil said after the match to club TV.

"There was only a five minute spell where the game became really stretched, and that happened right before the goal. We didn't recover quickly enough and they scored in that period, which was disappointing,"

"We knew before today's game that we need to win games to stay in the league. We're disappointed we didn't get something today, but we've now got two home games where we need to get as many points as we can."

The defeat, nevertheless, leaves them two points away from safety, after Newcastle beat Crystal Palace and Sunderland to secure a point at Stoke City earlier in the day.

Neil, however, is confident that his side can still avoid an instant return to the Championship should they play as they did at Arsenal in the three games remaining with Manchester United, Watford and Everton.

"I don't think I could have asked much more from the players today," the boss added. "I thought they worked extremely hard, their attitude was excellent and I thought we showed some real quality at times. I don't we got what we deserved out of the game.

"A lot of people were coming to or watching the game questioning whether we've got the bottle for the fight, whether we were just going to curl up and die or were we going to go out there and show what we're made of?

"I thought the boys answered those questions. They gave everything they could give, you can't ask any more of a group of players. All I will ask of them is that they go into the next three games with that type of effort and endeavour and quality, and if we do that I'm confident we can pick up points."

The manager, meanwhile, revealed that Ryan Bennett missed the game due to illness, but suggested he could be ready to return to action against Manchester United for the next game

"We were hoping he was going to be involved," he revealed. "He did a bit of training on Friday, the first he'd done in a week, but he took a bad reaction when we were trying to get him ready, and he wasn't ready."