Three For Third: Arsenal 3 – 1 Norwich – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 3 – 1 Norwich

As the race for fourth spot heats up, Arsenal welcomed Norwich to the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners welcomed back Jack Wilshere & Theo Walcott to the squad, and were hoping to grab all three points – and that’s exactly what they did.[quote_right]”The first half was a subdued one. Arsenal were dominant going forward, but looked nervous whenever Norwich mounted any attacks…”[/quote_right]

The first half was a subdued one. Arsenal were dominant going forward, but looked nervous whenever Norwich mounted any attacks. Arsenal’s midfield trio of Arteta, Ramsey & Wilshere looked boosted by the Englishman’s return.

Olivier Giroud and Gervinho shared most of the chances between them. Giroud saw a well aimed header bounce off of the cross bar, as Gervinho managed to completely ruin a one on one opportunity thanks to a a comically heavy touch.

Aaron Ramsey was looking lively, making good runs into the Norwich box, and executing strong challenges in the middle of the park. It was a welcome contrast to his recent performances.

Norwich on the other hand, were defending well, and were happy to go in to the half time break with a goalless forty-five minutes behind them.

In contrast, the second half was packed full of heart thumping excitement. Norwich scored early when Turner rose unmarked in the box to head the ball from a simple free kick on the edge of the Arsenal area. It was typically poor defending from The Gunners.[quote_left]” Oxlade Chamberlain was introduced as Arsenal’s last throw of the dice – and what a throw it turned out to be.”[/quote_left]

However, the response was instant. Wenger threw on Theo Walcott & Lukas Podolski immediately, and although the goals took their time to materialize, the substitutions made a huge difference.

The Gunners continued to press but couldn’t break down the stern defence of The Canaries. Oxlade Chamberlain was introduced as Arsenal’s last throw of the dice – and what a throw it turned out to be.

In the eighty-fifth minute, when all was looking lost, Olivier Giroud was hauled down in the box following a corner. Mikel Arteta stepped up to take one of the most pressurized penalties of his career. He struck it well enough, and Bunn’s hand was too weak to keep the ball out. Arsenel were level.

One point, however, was not good enough. Arsenal needed all three points.

As a result, their attacks poured forth from all angles. Just three minutes later, Oxlade Chamberlain managed to get himself deep inside the Norwich box, crossing to Giroud at the goal mouth. The Frenchman eagerly poked the ball in, under pressure from Bassong. It was sheer joy at the Emirates.

But Arsenal were not done. Two minutes later, Theo Walcott played the ball to Podolski just outside the Norwich area. he created some space and slammed home a powerful shot, leaving Bunn with no chance. Arsenal had scored three goals in less than seven minutes.

As the final whistle blew, the Emirates erupted into applause and celebrations. The sweet victory was made even sweeter by the fact that they had just leap-frogged bitter rivals Tottenham in the Premier League. It was vintage Arsenal.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Fabianski: [6.5/10]
Lukasz enjoyed a relatively quiet afternoon in goal, but managed to pull off some excellent saves whenever he was called upon. In the dying moments, he did extremely well to keep Norwich out with a close range effort at the Arsenal goal. Couldn’t have done much for the goal.

Sagna: [6/10]
Largely untroubled defensively, Sagna spent a great deal of time in the Norwich half, putting in some half-decent crosses in the process. Subbed.

Vermaelen: [6.5/10]
The Skipper returned, and despite some questionable defensive organization for the first goal, Vermaelen looked confident in the second half when going in for challenges. Lets hope he can build on today’s performance.

Koscielny: [7/10]
Laurent did well defensively throughout the game, despite some nonchalant clearances towards the end of the second half. He did well to bring the ball forwards on more than one occasion.

Gibbs: [5.5/10]
Monreal has been preferred over Gibbs in recent weeks, and the lack of game time has certainly taken its toll on the Englishman. Gibbs’ crossing was poor, and he looked uneasy in the Norwich half in general. Rusty.

Arteta: [7.5/10]
MOTM. Mikel deserves a great deal of praise for scoring his penalty. The pressure was mountainous, yet he remained calm enough to put it away. He also kept the tempo flowing at a good rate all game with quick, accurate passing, along with floated balls over the top of the Norwich back four.

Ramsey: [7.5/10]
Aaron had a fantastic game. He put in some stellar challenges across the pitch and managed to find some space behind the back four in the first half, as well as showing some good touched throughout the game. Did a good job of deputising at right-back in the closing minutes.

Wilshere: [6.5/10]
It was Jack’s first game back after injury, and that was reflected in his performance. By the end of the second half, he looked tired and sluggish on the ball, but put in a good shift anyway. Great to see him back.

Cazorla: [6/10]
Santi had a good long range effort saved in the first half, and did well to drift inside to help flood the Norwich midfield. Ineffective for much of the game.

Gervinho: [5/10]
With Podolski on the bench, it is baffling to see Gervinho start so often. He wasted many chances, one of which included a touch so heavy that it almost looked like a very badly aimed shot. Another bewildering performance by the Ivorian.

Giroud: [7/10]
Olivier showed some excellent touches throughout the game, and created many opportunities for players around him. His header off the cross bar was well executed, and his goal was deserved.

Subs:

Walcott: [7.5/10]
It’s great to have Theo back. His impact was immediate, and he created issues for the Norwich defenders for the remainder of the match. His piercing runs both on and off the ball were excellent, and he managed to get the assist for Podolski’s goals.

Podolski: [7/10]
After some awful touches after first coming on, Lukas grew into the game. He rattled a shot off the cross bar from a Giroud chest-down, and polished his performance off with a brilliantly struck goal from outside the box. Needs to start ahead of Gervinho.

The Ox: [7/10]
Chamberlain looked lively for the ten minutes that he had, and his influential cross for Giroud’s goal was well executed.

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[title]Three for Third[/title]

As previously mentioned, this excellent victory is made all the sweeter thanks to the fact that Arsenal now sit above Spurs in the Premier League table. The Gunner’s seven minute ressurection with three quality goals was an absolute joy to watch. However, the same type of performance must be shown throughout the game. A team better than Norwich may not allow such a comeback.

In any case, Arsenal fully deserved their victory. They now go on to face Everton in just three days time. Every football fan in North London will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of that fixture – but with a performance like today’s we should just be just fine.

What did you think of the Arsenal Vs Norwich match? Share your views in the comments section below!

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