Arsenal put in a classy performance to sweep away a competitive Norwich City side in a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.
In what was a comfortable afternoon for Arsene Wenger’s side, Jack Wilshere opened the scoring with a goal of the season contender before Mesut Ozil doubled Arsenal’s lead at the start of the second half.
Johnny Howson pulled a goal back for the Canaries, but Aaron Ramsey scored one and set up Ozil’s second of the game to seal all three points for the title challengers.
Arsenal did suffer a loss to Norwich at Carrow Road this time last season, but this season, the Gunners are proving to be a more polished package thanks in part to the arrival of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Wenger did include Santi Cazorla in the starting eleven with Ramsey starting on the bench and the Spanish midfielder has Arsenal’s first real chance in the fifth minute.
Cazorla twisted and turned on the edge of the box and made enough space to get away from Howson, but his left-footed shot was comfortably saved by John Ruddy. The goalkeeper was left helpless though 13 minutes later as Arsenal took the lead with a goal that will be remembered for years to come.
Jack Wilshere combined with both Cazorla and Olivier Giroud and all three men showed great skill with one touch passing that flashed through the Norwich defence. It was Giroud’s great flick that played in Wilshere and the England midfielder expertly put the ball in the bottom corner with a first-time volley. As Arsenal celebrated, replays of the goal was played around the ground and it brought applause from both sets of fans which is a telling sign of how good the goal was.
Arsenal could have doubled their lead in the 37th minute and it came from a mistake by Russell Martin. The Scot lost the ball in a bad position to Kieran Gibbs and the left-back pulled it back for Giroud to strike at goal, but Ruddy made a terrific reflex save to keep it out at the near post.
Meanwhile, Norwich had been overwhelmed by Arsenal’s tempo throughout the first half, but they could have been level at half-time. Leroy Fer broke forward from midfield and unleashed a powerful low shot from 25 yards, but Wojciech Szczesny made a smart save to keep his side’s lead in tact.
In the second half, the chances kept coming for both sides. Mikel Arteta blasted well over from 20 yards while from a similar position, Robert Snodgrass forced Szczesny into a good save with a fierce strike on an incisive Norwich breakaway. Despite the Canaries becoming a growing force in the game, it was Arsenal who grabbed the second goal in the 58th minute.
Giroud is usually the man on the end of Arsenal’s crosses but this time, he was the creator. The French international provided a precise cross that took the Norwich defenders out of the game and Ozil timed his run perfectly to nod into the bottom corner from 12 yards. It was a well-taken goal at a perfect time for the Gunners with Norwich’s growing confidence.
Chris Hughton’s side wouldn’t go down easily though and pulled a goal back in the 70th minute. Some poor Arsenal defending meant the ball broke to Howson on the edge of the box and the former Leeds United midfielder showed great skill to switch the ball onto his right foot and power a low shot into the corner of the net from 20 yards out. Szczesny stood no chance but any chance of a Norwich fightback was diminished as Arsenal upper their gear.
Ramsey, who had come on for the injured Matheiu Flamini in the first half, was running the strings for Arsenal and forced Ruddy into two good saves, but also set up chances for Mesut Ozil and Nicolas Bendtner. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Ruddy was having a terrific game and pulled off good saves all over the place.
The goalkeeper could do nothing about any of Arsenal’s goal on the day and that was made clear with two late strikes that sealed the result. Firstly, Ramsey collected Wilshere’s pass and dummied his way through three defensive challenges before rifling past Ruddy from six yards out. Just after, Tomas Rosicky’s deft cross to the back post was bettered by the Welsh midfielders first-time cutback that allowed Ozil to complete his brace with a tap-in.
The win has extended Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League and moved their unbeaten run up to 12 games while Norwich have now lost four of their last five league games.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)