The international break is now a tale of the past and club football beckoned as Arsenal visited Carrow Road to play one of the newly promoted sides. Arsene Wenger stuck with the same squad that was very impressive against West Brom, but Carl Jenkinson was the only player missing from yesterday’s game so he was replaced by the in-form Laurent Koscielny.
Arsenal started very brightly as Gervinho waltzed into Norwich’s danger area with the ball before teeing up Theo Walcott. The winger used his composure to evade the onrushing defender then used his left boot to curl the ball past the goalie, but a defender bravely blocked the ball off the line.
Last season, so many clubs scored Arsenal with their first attempt on target and this trend continued as Norwich went one up with their first attack. They had Per Mertesacker to thank as it was his sloppiness with the ball that allowed Morison to place the ball past Wojciech Szczesny in goal.
Arsenal charged at Norwich in search for the equalizer but the hosts defending was very resolute. Robin Van Persie and Gervinho had their efforts cleared off the line in quick succession but Arsenal’s breakthrough came when Walcott used his pace to evade his marker before drilling the ball into the heart of the defense. An awaiting predator called Robin van Persie finished off with consummate ease.
Arsenal was a bit profligate in the start of the second half with Gervinho missing a glaring header in the six-yard box. Gervinho was also suspect for missing another glorious chance when Robin van Persie teed him up with a lovely through ball. There was a nervy moment for Arsenal when Norwich had a free kick but Pickington’s effort was saved by Szczesny.
Van Persie scored what proved to be the winner when he chipped the ball over the goalie after receiving a carefully-weighted pass from Alex Song. Gervinho missed another chance after receiving the ball from Aaron Ramsey and that was the last straw as the Ivorian was replaced by Yossi Benayoun.
Norwich pressed on for an equalizer and there was some time for theatrics as Holt threw himself to the ground like a sack of potatoes when he was closed down by Mertesacker inside Arsenal’s box. Phil Dowd was having none of it and the striker received a yellow card for his troubles.
Late on, Walcott had a shot that smashed the post and the climax of the game brought sweat to Arsene Wenger’s palms as Norwich won a free kick on the edge of the area with seconds to spare. Many Arsenal haters were ready to celebrate a sucker punch from Norwich but Arsene Wenger responded by bringing on Johan Djourou to join the fold at the back.
After all the ceremony leading up to the free kick, Wojciech Szczesny commanded his area by being the first person to get to the ball and that was it from the man with the whistle.
Szczesny (7.0) didn’t do much but he responded well when he was called into action.
Koscelny (7.5) didn’t offer much in attack but he was very solid defensively in an unfamiliar right back position.
Andre Santos (7.0) marauded the left wing and worked well with Gervinho.
Vermaelen (7.5) was a rock at the back and put up some good tackles. He also made a few surging runs to support the attack.
Mertesacker (6.5) was the root cause of Norwich’s only goal but he didn’t dwell on it as he went to have an okay game.
Song (7.0) look assured in midfield and gave an assist for the winning goal.
Arteta (6.0) disappointed me a bit in midfield. He was very sloppy in possession.
Ramsey (6.5) had an on and off outing. There were moments were his quality shone through but there were others he looked really ragged.
Walcott (7.5) put up one of his better performances. He was a thorn in the flesh to Norwich and he compounded this by giving van Persie an assist for the first goal.
Gervinho (7.0) was a terrorist to Norwich’s defense but he left his shooting boots at home.
Van Persie (8.0) showed his predatory instinct with two well-taken goals and the numbers keep piling up for this striker. Stats and history guys, it’s time to update the “van Persie” section of your website because he’s at it again.
Benayoun (7.0) showed good movement.
Arsenal is currently unbeaten in eight games and Arsene Wenger’s side has won their last five Premier League fixtures to have 22 points on the log table, the same amount of points with 4th placed Chelsea and 5th placed Tottenham.
Arsenal was in 17th place after the 8-2 drubbing in the hands on Manchester United but Arsene Wenger’s men are currently three points behind 3rd placed Newcastle, who finally knew what defeat tasted like in the hands of the unstoppable force known as Manchester City that has won 11 out of their 12 Premier League games.
Next stop, Borussia Dortmund.
Here’s to Robin van Persie.
Arsenal’s attacking demigod.