Result: Norwich 0 – 5 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 26 December 2021
Venue: Carrow Road
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Lacazette
Subs: Leno, Tavares, Mari, Elneny, Patino, Lokonga, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Nketiah
Arsenal cruised to an impressive win away against Norwich despite missing all their right backs due to Covid-19.
Saka and Tierney put the Gunner ahead in the first half while Saka, Lacazette and Smith Rowe scored the team’s third, fourth and fifth goal in the second half to further Arsenal’s grip on fourth place.
Arsenal were sensational in their last league game against Leeds and Arteta was looking for some continuity in the line-up to provide another positive performance.
It was another unchanged side from the Leeds game save for Tomiyasu’s absence at right back. The Japanese international tested positive for Covid-19 and so were the other alternatives at right back – Cedric and Maitland-Niles.
In his place, Ben White took up the right back spot while Holding played in centre defence next to Gabriel. Highly rated youngster, Charlie Patino, also made the bench.
It was a gloomy afternoon at Carrow Road and the pace of the game during the opening minutes reflected the weather – slow and tentative from both teams as they felt each other out. That was typified by Ozan Kabak dribbling out to the right side of midfield only to get dispossessed by Tierney who looked to move up a gear.
The Scotsman started the counter and a lovely exchange down the left which soon found the ball at Saka’s feet. Saka cut in from the right and calmly passed the ball into bottom corner. Just like that, Arsenal were a goal up within 5 minutes. 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal kept the home side at bay, Gabriel and Holding, repelling all balls with Ramsdale shoring up behind him. It became such a walk in the park that Xhaka had to raise the temperature with a feisty tackle just to add some spice to the game. Just as the Norwich players were waking up to the fight, the Gunners deflated the home crowd with a second just before half time.
Martinelli dropped back all the way down on the right side of midfield to dispossess a Norwich player. They moved the ball to Odegaard in the centre who spotted a rampaging Tierney run down the left. The left back received the inch perfect pass and lashed in a shot to the far post for his first goal of the season. 0-2 Arsenal
A just result in the first half for a dominant display by Arsenal. Odegaard looked especially inspired, picking up the ball in between the lines and threatening with his balletic infield dribbles and disguised through balls to the feet of his forwards. The attacking midfielder was at his graceful best in the first half and was untouchable as he provided the assist for both goals.
Looking to match Arsenal’s quality, Norwich came out of the locker room with a desire to pass at a faster pace but were struggling to perform at the required level. Their passes were consistently going astray and the Gunners only had to wait patiently until the ball returned to their possession.
If Odegaard was the standout Gunner in the first half, the second belonged to Martinelli. The Brazilian constantly tormented Aarons down the flank with his direct wing play and aggressive pressing. Aarons couldn’t keep up with his high octane performance.
Though despite Martinelli’s dominance, it was Saka’s more subtle style which moved Arsenal further ahead on the 66th minute.
Arsenal’s patient build up had Norwich sitting back passively, giving Saka space on the right side when he had the ball. He needed no second invitation as he curled the ball into the far corner again to make it 0-3 to Arsenal.
The away side wrapped up the game with two more goals to push their dominance on a poor Norwich side. The fourth goal was a penalty scored by Lacazette after he was bundled over after receiving a delicious reverse pass from substitute, Smith Rowe. 0-4 to Arsenal.
And in the latter minutes, it was Smith Rowe’s turn to score as he latched onto a deflected Pepe shot at the far post to make it 0-5 to Arsenal.
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Arsenal put weaker teams to the sword so it was great to see the team develop good habits again. On to Wolves on Tuesday!