Norwich City vs. Arsenal: 5 Things We Learned as Ramsey Volley Beats Canaries
Arsene Wenger and Arsenal's focus moves towards the FA Cup final and Hull City after the Gunners wrapped up a routine victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road in the final game of the 2013-14 Premier League season.
The win was inspired by a stunning second-half volley from Aaron Ramsey and a second from Carl Jenkinson. Arsenal finish the season in fourth on 79 points, just seven points behind the champions, Manchester City. Norwich finished in 18th and are relegated to the Championship.
Wenger and the club's fans will be left wondering at what might have been, especially as Ramsey missed almost the entire second half of the season through injury.
As the entire football world checked on the happenings at Manchester City and Liverpool, only the most hardened of Arsenal and Norwich City fans gave their full attention to the goings on at Carrow Road.
Having spent 128 days on top of the Premier League, more than any other team, it would have pained Wenger and his charges to play out the season in a nothing game at Norwich City.
Confidence was at a low ebb for Norwich after 10 games with only a single victory with relegation all but guaranteed. The last team Neil Adams would have wanted to visit Carrow Road was an Arsenal team building towards an FA Cup final against Hull City the following week.
After a conservative opening period, Arsenal took control when Ramsey latched onto Olivier Giroud's in-swinging cross to volley home in spectacular fashion. With Norwich a very far second best, it seemed only a matter of time before the Gunners added a second. Jenkinson duly obliged with a well-taken finish into the bottom corner.
The game then turned into something of a training session for Arsenal as the visibly demoralized Canaries counted down the seconds until the referee's final whistle. When it did come, it offered little relief for their fans who rounded on the Norwich board.
For Wenger, the win puts his team in the right mindset ahead of next week's FA Cup final against Hull City.
Here, Bleacher Report offers five things we learned from Norwich City vs. Arsenal...
Aaron Ramsey Will Be Even Better Next Season
There are a multitude of reasons as to why Arsenal fell out of the title race so dramatically. One might even say their demise was so sudden they were virtually ejected.
However, one of the main reasons they are no longer in the race is because of Aaron Ramsey getting injured against West Ham on December 26. The Welshman has only just returned to first-team action after four months.
At the time, the Caerphilly-born 23-year-old was the PFA Player of the Year-elect such was his outstanding form. Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who captured the award recently, was a fine and deserving winner. However, he benefited greatly from not having Ramsey to contend with.
When Ramsey got injured in December, he had already played 31 times for club and country and had scored an outstanding 15 goals from midfield, per Soccerbase. He also contributed a superb nine assists at club level, per WhoScored.com.
At the time of Ramsey's injury, Liverpool's Uruguayan hitman had scored 24 goals and contributed five assists, per WhoScored.com.
There is little doubt Ramsey's loss to Wenger played a major part in both Suarez winning the PFA title and Arsenal falling from title contenders to top-four hangers-on.
Ramsey, Arsenal's most important player, had a quiet game against Norwich City up until his stonking volley that left John Ruddy with no chance whatsoever.
It was his 17th goal in his 37th appearance, with the FA Cup final still to come.
The fact he has returned so strongly from injury and will have an entire summer to get ready bodes well for next season.
Arsenal fans should expect both Ramsey and Mesut Ozil to challenge for the PFA award in 2015.
John Ruddy Would Be a Good 3rd Choice 'Keeper for England at World Cup
Norwich City's John Ruddy is, most definitely, in the running to make Roy Hodgson's England squad for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.
The Norwich net-minder is one of 67 men who have represented England just once between the sticks and will be keen to increase that total.
The tough-looking 27-year-old has been ever present for Norwich during this troublesome season and is, quite rightly, the first name on the team sheet. There was nothing he or any other goalkeeper in the world could have done to prevent Aaron Ramsey's spectacular volley from opening the scoreline.
Ruddy is a big, commanding 'keeper who organizes his box and defense well. His main downfall is his distribution where he has distinctly suffered from Norwich's direct style. The same, however, can be said of both Forster and Foster.
Should Hodgson choose Ruddy, he will be making a major statement about English football. It would effectively mean the England manager only chooses his men on how well they play and not for who and where they play. Remember, by the time the World Cup kicks off, Ruddy will be a Championship player.
Carl Jenkinson Is Not a Direct Replacement for Bacary Sagna
Carl Jenkinson's inclusion in the Arsenal lineup at right-back is the biggest indicator contract negotiations with Bacary Sagna are reaching their end.
Arsene Wenger chose to rest Per Mertesacker ahead of the FA Cup final and move Sagna inside into centre-back.
In the buildup to the last game of the season, the French international seemed to signal his career at the Emirates Stadium is over, per Europe1.fr, according to Fox Sports.
I'm out of contract, as everyone knows.
I still consider myself as an Arsenal player at present. But actually we had a small problem to agree (a new deal), and I don't think I stay at Arsenal at the end of the season.
Jenkinson's start suggests the 22-year-old English international will be in serious consideration to start against Hull City in the FA Cup final. If the current trajectory of contract negotiations continue, he will be in pole position for the right-back berth for next season.
This is a huge boost for the right-back because, prior to the Norwich game, he had only started six games in the Premier League compared to Sagna's 33, per WhoScored.com.
His goal was a huge bonus that will boost his confidence considerably. In respect to goalscoring, Jenkinson is probably more of a threat than Sagna. He is, however, no match as a defender, and this is where the true comparison takes place.
There is little doubt Sagna, even at 31, is one of the best full-backs in the game. He would be a huge loss to the Gunners. There is little doubt Arsene Wenger must replace the Frenchman when his contract runs out.
That begs the next question: Do Arsenal sign a direct replacement or do they sign backup to Jenkinson?
At this stage of Jenkinson's development, Wenger and Arsenal would be in a much better position if they kept Sagna. Failing that, a direct replacement of a similar caliber is a must. Jenkinson is just not good enough to go straight into the first team.
For both him and Arsenal, Wenger needs a top-class right-back available, especially if Arsenal are to push on to the next level.
Norwich City's Captain, Russell Martin, Is Right About His Team
Heading into the Arsenal clash, Norwich City needed the miracle of miracles to survive. Not only did the Canaries need to beat Arsenal, they also needed to overturn a 17-goal deficit.
They were relegated before the final game of the season, and their captain knew it.
Russell Martin rounded on the club in a very hard-hitting interview with the Pink 'Un. He offered some home truths that will echo around the dressing room and the board room long after the final whistle blew at Carrow Road.
If it doesn’t hurt you are in the wrong job and at the wrong football club.
The mood around the camp in the last few days has not been good.
As club captain it is my role to front up and speak on behalf of the players, but the reality is we have just got relegated from the best league in the world.
I feel angry, dejected and disappointed for the club, the fans and in ourselves to be honest as players.
The fact is people might lose their jobs in other roles at the club and I feel annoyed about that.
In my opinion standards have slipped a bit and we need to pick it up again. Everything has to be better for next year. We lost a little bit of our identity.
That is no fault or a slight on the previous manager, that is a collective thing.
For two years no-one liked playing against Norwich City because they knew they were in for a game.
This year it has been a little bit too easy to play against us.
Norwich battled with little more than honesty until Arsenal decided to step up a gear. When they did, the Canaries' will was easily second best.
Martin is right; Norwich have been "too easy to play against."
Arsenal Right Not to Give Arsene Wenger a Contract Before Season End
Despite Arsene Wenger stressing to the Telegraph and Arsenal's fans his contract will be sorted sooner rather than later, the fact it is still up for discussion is slightly concerning.
It must be said, though, Arsenal's board would not be doing their job properly if they awarded the Frenchman his new contract before the FA Cup final.
The board know there is a healthy #WengerOut campaign amongst fans. After the 3-0 defeat to Everton recently, Twitter almost went into meltdown as angry fans vented their fury, per the Star. Losing the FA Cup final to Hull would undoubtedly create another hostile environment.
There is now a distinct message in the air that the club are looking at other options. Arsenal even sounded out Louis van Gaal recently, according to Goal.com.
Reading the situation from outside the club, the contract offer has been on the table for some time. Wenger, however, was reluctant to sign on the dotted line. Whether this was gamesmanship on the Frenchman's side, one can only guess at.
However, it did look like he wanted to be in a position of power in bringing in a trophy to the negotiations.
Now that the Premier League title is a dream for another year, he is slightly more eager to sign.
Arsenal's board and the fans must now decide if Arsene still knows best and whether to give him what could be his final contract in the game.