Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Wilshere, Arteta, Flamini, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Ramsey, Monreal, Bendtner, Jenkinson
Arsene Wenger recalled Santi Cazorla and rested Aaron Ramsey as Arsenal beat Norwich 4-1 at the Emirates today.
Jack Wilshere started on the right with Cazorla taking up his usual position on the left hand side, and the Spaniard had the first attempt of the game, shooting from the edge of the box only to see Ruddy get down to make a relatively simple save.
The game settled down with both teams feeling each other out, but in the 17th minute Arsenal were ahead. Jack Wilshere brought it forward, gave it to Cazorla with whom he exchanged passes. At the edge of the Norwich box he flicked it to Giroud, Giroud flicked it back to him to put him through on goal with just the keeper to beat and he touched it with his right foot just inside the post. 1-0 – GIF.
An amazing goal, the kind of that if Barcelona and Messi had scored it, there’d be pundit jizz everywhere.
Wilshere was a constant threat in the final third, only good late defending prevented another shot on goal from inside the area, while the combination play and pressing made life extremely difficult for the visitors.
There was a stoppage in play after a clash of heads between Flamini and Tettey which seemed to dent Arsenal’s momentum and Norwich found space down their left hand side to get crosses in.
But they had goalkeeper John Ruddy to thank as he prevented Giroud doubling the lead. Gibbs robbed some cunny or other high up the pitch and pulled it back for the Frenchman. His near post effort was going in but Ruddy pulled off a fine save.
Bacary Saga then watched the ball come down from a Norwich header and caught it full on the volley with his left foot from the edge of the area. The shot went straight at Ruddy though.
Flamini’s head clash meant he had to be replaced by Aaron Ramsey and it disrupted Arsenal as Norwich had a good spell towards the end of the half. Leroy Fer forced Szczesny into a very good save with a shot from distance as Arsenal struggled to get near the ball in the final stages of the first period.
However, they went into the break with Wilshere’s amazing goal separating the sides.
The second half began brightly with Mikel Arteta’s shot from distance deflecting out for a corner while at the other end a well worked free kick saw Martin shoot wide of Szczesny’s near post. Aaron Ramsey saw a shot blocked before Giroud headed a Sagna cross over the bar.
Norwich picked up where they left off at the end of the first half as Arsenal failed to find any rhythm. Szczesny made saves from Olsson and Snodgrass, but it was the Gunners who scored, very much against the run of play.
Arsenal cut out a Norwich attack and broke upfield with Cazorla. He played it outside to Giroud whose cross into the box found Ozil’s brilliant run forward, and his header on the run beat Ruddy to make it 2-0.
It was the Spaniard’s last involvement as he was immediate replaced by Tomas Rosicky. Anthony Pilkington then had a chance to get one back for the Canaries but shot wide, which is all he deserved after fouling Mertesacker in the build up.
However, Norwich’s pressure paid dividends in the 70th minute when they got one back. They found some space down our right hand side, the cross came in, Mertesacker got a foot on it but it fell for Johnny Howson. He took a touch and drilled a shot inside the near post despite the close attention of Kieran Gibbs.
Aaron Ramsey’s long range effort stretched Ruddy as the ball was heading for the top corner and the Welshman set up Ozil for a shot which the Norwich keeper saved easily enough. It was Ramsey again forcing the keeper to save at his near post as Nicklas Bendtner replaced the two-assist man Olivier Giroud.
The Dane then spanked a powerful shot at goal which, as you’ll have guessed by now, Ruddy saved, but the Arsenal pressure counted as Aaron Ramsey put us two ahead again. There was fine interplay around the Norwich box, Ramsey picked it up inside the area, feinted to shoot taking out two defenders, cut back inside another defender, then fired in a low shot past Ruddy to make it 3-1.
And moments later it was 4-1. Bendtner picked up an Ozil pass on the right hand side, unselfishly played it back to Rosicky who crossed to the far post. Ramsey just touched it back to Ozil who caressed it into the net to make it 4-1.
It was almost 5 when Wilshere curled one just wide after good work by Ozil. But despite the Norwich pressure, Arsenal really showed their class, found some magic moments and moved back to the top of the table.