Norwich 0 Arsenal 2: The Gunners Seal the Canaries’ Fate
Carrow Road (Premier League)
Arsenal: Ramsey 53′, Jenkinson 62′
With half an eye on the FA Cup final next week, the Gunners had absolutely nothing to lose if they fielded a “weakened side” against a Norwich team that was doomed for relegation. However, Wenger chose to stick with his big guns as well as springing up a surprise up his sleeve, as he offered Lukasz Fabianski a rare league start ahead of Wojciech Szczesny that was hopeful of winning the PFA Golden Glove award. Speaking of rare starts, Carl Jenkinson also got a run-out in the side but funnily enough, Bacary Sagna played in the heart of the defense alongside the ever-present Laurent Koscielny.
Before kickoff, Arsenal had already made a bigger points haul than the previous five seasons, having amassed 76, and have finished in the top four for the 18th consecutive season. An outstanding achievement.
Arsenal drew first blood when Ramsey and Ozil worked in tandem to create a chance for Podolski but the linesman’s flag came to Norwich’s rescue. It was shocking to know that Fabianski was making his first Premier League start but he showed great alertness to save Nathan Redmond’s rasping shot. Podolski was at it again when he latched on to a ball from Giroud but John Ruddy was on hand to make a good save.
Giroud and Podolski executed a neat one-two and the French striker blasted a goal-bound shot to the top corner but Ruddy made another top-drawer save to keep the scoreline intact. Ozil swung in a dead ball that was fluffed in the air by Giroud when he attempted a bicycle kick but the rebound fell to Ramsey whose shot was blocked by Michael Turner. Giroud received a pass from Rosicky with his back to goal, and he turns quickly before drilling a 20-yard effort towards the top corner, and Ruddy produced another spectacular save to parry it away.
The Frenchman looked to the stars and figured that it wasn’t going to be his day.
With 45 minutes gone, the scoreline remained intact and one wondered what Arsenal had to do to break the deadlock. It’s not as if they were going to allow Norwich to score the 17 goals they needed to escape the drop.
At the start of the second half, Podolski latched onto a corner but his header went over the bar. Just when we thought that the game was turning out into a stalemate, Giroud dinked a cross to the far post and Arsenal’s knight in shining armor, Aaron Ramsey, picked his spot and fired a sumptuous volley that gave Ruddy no chance in Hell.
A good day for Arsenal became better when Podolski’s loose shot was fired home by Jenkinson as the lad finally broke his goalscoring duck for the club after 55 appearances in three seasons. I’m pretty sure that he would be hoping that it won’t take him that long to score again. With Sagna gone, who knows what the future holds for the lad.
Ramsey got a rousing reception when he was replaced by Jack Wilshere, a player with hopes of making Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad. Arsene Wenger brought on more reinforcements shortly afterwards, as Yaya Sanogo and Abou Diaby, yes, the real Abou Diaby, replaced Giroud and Rosicky. This was Diaby’s first appearance for the club in 420 days. The Arsenal fans were delighted to see Diaby make a return and they chanted his name with some glee. It was great to see such stuff as it was the kind of thing that could bring a tear or two out of your eyes.
Fabianski’s concentration levels were in check when he dived to parry Loza’s effort away. On the other end, Arteta almost made three with a free kick that wrong-footed Ruddy but he somehow managed to make a stop to keep the scoreline respectable. Norwich continued to probe late on and Fabianski had to sprint off his line to stop Snodgrass from capitalizing on a loose ball.
Like Jenkinson, Sanogo was hoping that this was going to be the day the gods smile on him to allow him score his first Arsenal goal but Ruddy was having none of that as Sanogo’s shot deflected off Turner but the goalie still made a good save in the awkward situation.
It was a good way to wrap things up before the big Cup final.
Expect a couple of reviews and awards in the coming days.
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