Victory Through Harmony: Arsenal 4 – 1 Norwich – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 4 – 1 Norwich

After a reserved display against West Brom, Arsenal were looking to get back to their winning ways at home against Norwich. For the first time this season, Santi Cazorla was starting alongside Mesut Ozil, and that was enough to get Arsenal fans everywhere pumped and optimistic before kick off.[quote_right]”Wilshere and Giroud combined beautifully for what may well be a contender for goal of the season.”[/quote_right]

The Gunners started the game positively, by holding on to the ball well testing the Norwich defence with some crosses, although none of them had much of an impact.

However, in the eighteenth minute, Arsenal came forward in a way which was a little more direct.

Cazorla brought the ball forward, and gave it to Wilshere who picked it up outside the box. He played the ball to Giroud, who passed it right back, where it was met by a clever flick from the Englishman as he continued his run. Wilshere’s flick was accompanied by Giroud’s first time pass between the Norwich defenders, where it fell to the feet of Wilshere. Jack comfortably poked the ball past Ruddy, ending a truly spectacular move.

If you think the explanation of the build up to the goal was difficult to comprehend, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it was on the eye. Wilshere and Giroud combined beautifully for what may well be a contender for goal of the season.

Giroud was perhaps unfortunate to have a close range shot saved by Ruddy soon after the goal, but unfortunately, the awe-inspiring goal failed to spark a first half rout.

Mathieu Flamini was replaced by Ramsey in the thirty-eighth minute after a clash of heads left the Frenchman dizzied, and Norwich immediately looked more threatening. Snodgrass in particular was helping to drive The Canaries forward, and Arsenal looked to be lacking the midfield steel they had earlier in the half.

Thankfully, nothing came of Norwich’s increased confidence, and the half time whistle blew on a largely uneventful first half.

The second half however, had much more in store for Arsenal. The Canaries continued to grow into the game gradually, but couldn’t quite find the finishing touch to find their equalizer.

Arsenal on the other hand, only needed until the fifty-eighth minute to grab their second goal. Olivier Giroud picked the ball upon the edge of the box, and perfectly lofted in a cross, which was met by Ozil’s header. The ball soared past Ruddy, and The Gunners could finally feel a little bit more relaxed.[quote_left]”Every Arsenal fan watching realised that they had just seen a near-perfect win. And if that wasn’t enough, The Gunners were now two points clear at the top of the League.[/quote_left]

Unfortunately, they felt a little bit too relaxed. In the seventieth minute, a spell of poor defending and good offensive play from Norwich resulted in The Canaries snatching one back. Mertesacker cleared a cross inadequately, allowing it to fall to Howson on the edge of the area. Gibbs was too slow to close him down, and so he comfortably laced the ball into the bottom corner.

The next few minutes were nervy, as Norwich looked confident, whilst Arsenal still looked to be missing the presence of Flamini.

It took until the eighty-third minute for Aaron Ramsey to step up once again, and deliver the goods. Aaron picked up the ball in the area, feigned a shot twice, taking out three defenders, and then simply placed the ball past Ruddy. It was another excellent goal.

Yet, Arsenal weren’t satisfied. Just five minutes later, Rosicky’s intelligent cross found Ramsey at the back post, who passed across goal to Ozil. The midfield maestro poked it home, putting Arsenal on cloud nine.

As the final whistle blew, every Arsenal fan watching realised that they had just seen a near-perfect win. And if that wasn’t enough, The Gunners were now two points clear at the top of the League.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Szczesney: [7/10]
Made some a couple of assured saves throughout, but was never under too much pressure. Could do nothing for the goal.

Sagna: [6.5/10]
A bit of a mixed bag. Bacary’s crossing was mostly poor, but he also managed to whip in a few which were a threat. His passing and decision-making on the ball looked a little off too. Defensively untroubled for most of the game.

Mertesacker: [6.5/10]
A solid first half, but made a couple of errors in the second. His poor clearance led to the Norwich goal, and he looked positionally suspect at times.

Koscielny: [7/10]
Laurent didn’t have much trouble going about his duties, and looked comfortable throughout the game.

Gibbs: [7/10]
Kieran did very well on the ball in both halves, helping the team get forward whenever he could. Defensively he was fine, apart from the poor closing down for Howson’s goal.

Flamini: [7/10]
Only on the pitch for thirty-eight minutes, but did his usual job of breaking up play and bossing everybody around. Arsenal looked defensively fragile the moment he left the pitch. His injury proves however, that he is in fact human. Subbed.

Arteta: [6.5/10]
An average performance throughout from Mikel. He managed to keep the ball moving, but didn’t do enough defensively following Flamini’s injury. Misplaced some simple passes in the second period.

Ozil: [8.5/10] – MOTM
Two well taken goals from Mesut, and a comfortable performance throughout the game. Ozil’s movement off the ball got him his goals, along with some impressive finishing. It feels good to have a world-class player in the side again.

Cazorla: [7.5/10]
Santi looked lively in the first half, linking up with Ozil and Wilshere well in the final third. Understandably didn’t set the game alight due to his recent return to fitness. A solid performance anyway. Subbed.

Wilshere: [8.5/10]
Jack started the game very well, and scored one of the best goals of the season so far. His passing was sound, and he drifted past players elegantly as usual. It’s good to see him scoring, and it’s good to see him respond to Arsenal’s talent-rich midfield situation.

Giroud: [8.5/10]
Olivier was at the heart of Arsenal’s success yet again, thanks to his two assists. His combination with Wilshere for the first goal was amazing, whilst his cross for Ozil’s header was spot on. Looked threatening for most of the time he stayed on the pitch. Could Giroud become World class? I think so.

Subs:

Rosicky: [7/10]
Tomas mostly kept himself to himself after coming on, playing everything safe, but he produced a brilliant cross in the build up to Arsenal’s final goal.

Ramsey: [8.5/10]
Aaron was quiet when he came off the bench, but came alive in the last twenty minutes of the game. His goal was absolutely superb, and he even managed to grab an assist for Ozil’s second. The lad is on fire.

Bendtner: [7/10]
Showed some good movement, and had an impressive shot on goal too. It will be interesting to see how he gets on in the run up to the transfer window.

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[title]Victory Through Harmony[/title]

If I had to describe Arsenal’s performance today in one word – it would have to be harmonious.

It wasn’t just the quality of each goal, it was the way in which the team worked together in such a cohesive way. Ozil knew what Ramsey was going to do, whilst Giroud was reading Jack like a book. Throw in some world-class finishing, and you have a team who can produce truly amazing goals. And that’s precisely what they did.

The harmony in this team is by far the biggest strength. Defensively, we looked worrying without Flamini, with the conceded goal being a small blemish on what was a spectacular performance.

Bring on Dortmund.

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

Image: Arsenal

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