Arsenal 4 Norwich 1: Midfield Masterpiece Sends the Gunners to the Summit
Emirates Stadium (Premier League)
Arsenal – Wilshere 18′, Ozil 58′, 88′, Ramsey 83′; Norwich – Howson 70′
With the international break done and dusted, Premier League football graced our screens once again as the lunchtime kickoff between Newcastle and Liverpool set the tone but the draw on Tyneside gave Arsenal the onus, as Arsene Wenger’s men knew that a victory would be enough to solidify their status as the top dog in the league.
In my match preview, I had predicted a lineup but some injury returnees made very swift returns as Bacary Sagna and Santi Cazorla were deemed fit to start the game with Tomas Rosicky on the bench. The mouthwatering prospect of watching Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil play together for the first time made some fans drool.
As expected, Arsenal began the game on the ascendancy when Jack Wilshere combined well with Cazorla on the edge of the area but the Spaniard’s left-footed tame shot was easy pickings for Norwich goalie, John Ruddy. Cazorla and Wilshere were in the thick of things again and both players combined well to tee up Kieran Gibbs on the left hand side but his attempted cross was blocked by the Norwich rearguard.
Norwich tried to hit the Gunners on the break but Laurent Koscielny was on hand to make a couple of vital interceptions as he read the game superbly to mitigate the Norwich attacks. With the pressure Arsenal was mounting they were bound to get the game’s opener and it arrived in stunning fashion after some intricate passing play between Santi Cazorla, Wilshere and Olivier Giroud.
Wilshere instigated the attack from Arsenal’s half, evaded a marker then passed the ball to Gibbs on his far left. The English fullback swiftly fed Cazorla and the diminutive magician darted inwards then teed up Giroud who in turn flicked the ball to an onrushing Wilshere. With the ball still in motion, Wilshere flicked it back to Giroud and the Frenchman returned the favor with another exquisite flick and that scintillating buildup matched the finish as Wilshere sidefooted the ball past a hapless Ruddy.
Wilshere had managed just two goals in 69 league games prior to his goal against West Brom two weeks ago. He now has two league goals in his past two league matches.
Giroud sent his shot into orbit after receiving the ball from Sagna but there was a cause for concern when Mathieu Flamini suffered a concussion after a clash of heads with Alexandre Tettey. The Armchair Gooner had other thoughts though,
Giroud kept probing the Norwich goal and it took a top-drawer save from Ruddy to keep the French predator at bay. After Gibbs had won the ball further up field, he waltzed into the box and supplied a neat cut back to Giroud but his goal-bound one-timed shot was saved by Ruddy in his near post.
Arsenal took their feet off the pedal as the first half reached its climax which offered the likes of Robert Snodgrass and Leroy Fer to test Szczesny from distance but the big Pole was equal to every challenge.
Arsenal began the second half with Mikel Arteta letting two shots rip from distance but Norwich almost got their equalizer when Michael Turner leaped high to flick Snodgrass’ free kick to Russell Martin’s path but the defender’s shyness in front of goal was exposed as he lashed his shot wide.
With Norwich failing to take the initiative, Arsenal doubled their money when Cazorla covered some distance before feeding Giroud on the right. The French forward noticed Mesut Ozil’s surge into the box and he located the German schemer with an inch-perfect cross that was headed home by Ozil.
It’s fair to say that Norwich got hit by GODZILLA as G-ir-O-u–D, o-ZIL and cazor-LA combined to score a goal.
That also turned out to be Cazorla’s last telling contribution as he was replaced by Tomas Rosicky. The Gunners launched another swift attack from the right hand side with Sagna lofting a ball that was bound for Giroud’s head but Turner was on hand to make a vital interception.
Norwich clawed one back when Martin Olsson’s cross was cleared by Per Mertesacker but the German’s clearance went to Jonny Howson’s path and his drive at goal was too much for Szczesny as it crept past him to reduce Norwich’s deficit.
Ramsey and Ozil tested Ruddy from distance but the goalie made comfortable saves. The manager made his final substitution on the night by replacing Giroud with the World’s Best Striker, Nicklas Bendtner. The great Dane got in on the shooting act with a piledriver that was aimed at Ruddy’s near post but the goalie on form made another magnificent save.
At 2-1, there was some nervousness and anxiety felt by the fans but the Gunners extended their lead in breathtaking fashion as Ramsey made mincemeat of three able-bodied defenders before blasting his shot past Ruddy to make it three.
Mertesacker reacted quickly to an Arteta cross but he missed Ruddy’s far post by a lick of paint. The Gunners put the game beyond doubt when Bendtner connected with Rosicky that showed his eagle-eyed vision to locate an unselfish Ramsey on the far post whose simple cut back was slotted home by Ozil.
Szczesny (7) had a relatively quiet evening as expected but still made some good saves from distance.
Sagna (7) was as combative as ever in his return to full fitness. However, I did have a question mark or two about his crossing.
Gibbs (7) supported the attack superbly was would have had an assist if Giroud’s effort went in.
Mertesacker (7) had an easy stroll in the park and calmed things at the back.
Koscielny (8) out up another commanding performance, making vital interceptions and bossed the defense.
Flamini (N/A) didn’t have much influence on the game before his injury. Arsenal’s conservative approach changed with the introduction of Ramsey.
Arteta (7) showcased his experience as he tidied things up in midfield.
Cazorla (7) had a good run out in his return from injury.
Wilshere (8) had a better game as he started from the right hand side and he must take the plaudits for the role he played in the game’s match opener.
Ozil (9) scored two well-taken goals in front of his home fans. I figured that he got bored of assisting, so he decided to score a couple.
Giroud’s (9) first touch is awesome and this guy can flick the ball for Africa. Lest I forget, he also assists when he wants.
Ramsey (9) came in from the bench and showed off his quality to prove why he’s one of the hottest players in the beautiful game at the moment.
Rosicky (7) was evergreen as well and played a role in the final goal.
Bendtner (7) had a couple of decent touches and even had a shot that was saved.
In his post-match press conference, Arsenal confessed that Wilshere’s goal was one of the best goals he’s ever seen. If I could describe that goal in one word, I’ll say…orgasmic!!
The Gunners have usurped Liverpool back to the summit of the Premier League, which is a pretty welcome sight if you ask me, bearing in mind that David Moyes and Manchester United continued to struggle. This game week 8 will be complete for me if Spurs fail to deliver at Villa Park, a ground Manchester City suffered defeat this season.
Happy Sunday Gooners.
To vote for Gooner Daily for the 2013 OYAA award of Best Online Media for Sport, please click here.
You can download the Gooner Daily BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.
You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page and click on the like button.
You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button