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Match Review: Arsenal 4 Norwich 1 - Premier League 19.10.13

A bit of a mixed one for me. I enjoyed parts of the game and the result immensely, but it was slightly tempered by the swathes of sloppiness we witnessed. There was a long period that stretched from the end of the first half to the start of the second and in that Norwich were arguably on top and struggled to find any fluidity. I’m not sure whether it was an International hangover or we had half an eye on the Dortmund game, but we struggled for a big chunk of the game. Thankfully Norwich were utterly toothless and the goal they scored was down to a couple of errors on our part. Having said that, when we clicked, we were simply unplayable. In the last twenty minutes some of the things we did left me speechless and if we can produce some of that against Dortmund, we’ll have a really great chance. 

The first half started a little sluggishly. We controlled, Norwich sat in a well disciplined shape and without a natural winger we struggled to get through a congested midfield. We lined up without the in form Aaron Ramsey, presumably rested with some important fixtures on the horizon, with Arteta and Flamini playing as deep CMs.

Wilshere scoring - image courtesy of

Wilshere played on the right and Cazorla on the left of and attacking three that was completed by Özil in the middle. Bar Ramsey, it’s about as strong a line-up we could have put out and I was a little surprised that there was no Gnabry or Ryo in the squad. I’m sure Gnabry in particular will be disappointed that he wasn’t even on the bench given his stellar performance against Swansea and in the German U19s.

I felt that we lacked pace on the flanks and we were relying heavily on Gibbs and Sagna getting forward to provide any width. We were controlling the game but not creating a clear cut chance. That was until the Emirates witnessed one of the best goals ever scored on its hallowed turf. Cazorla picked up the ball on the left and found some space cutting inside before laying off to Wilshere.

Wilshere gave it back to the Spaniard and that’s when the magic happened. In the blink of an eye, Cazorla fed Giroud, who flicked to Wilshere, who flicked back to Giroud, who flicked round the corner for Wilshere to plant a nonchalant first time volley past Ruddy. There were four seconds in between the ball leaving Wilshere’s left boot and it ending up in the back of the net. There was an audible gasp around the stadium as the replays were shown. It was fantasy football, absolutely world class and the sort of goal that comes with confidence we currently have. 

Ozil goal - Picture courtesy of

After that goal, we pressed for a second, but with no great urgency. Giroud forced a great save from Ruddy but that was it for clear chances. The game’s complexion changed when Flamini managed to concuss himself by nutting one of the Norwich players. Ramsey was pressed into service after 37 minutes as Flamini was forced to come off and he will struggle to be fit in time for the Dortmund match. It had an immediate affect too, without the Frenchman’s gesturing and shouting, we looked suddenly vulnerable and we endured a nervy 10 minutes where our passing went to pot and Norwich gave our defense a lot of problems, notably when the excellent Leroy Fer forced a brilliant stop from Szczesny. Despite Norwich’s pressing though, they couldn’t find an equaliser and after a rocky end to the half, we went in with our lead in tact.

The start of the second half brought more of the same; wayward passes, poor defensive shape and a nagging sense that Norwich were growing into the game more and more. So it was a major relief when we broke quickly after a Norwich attack and doubled our lead. Santi Cazorla nipped forward and passed to Giroud. The striker, on the right hand edge of the area, took a touch and curled a beautiful cross in for Mesut Özil to glance a beautiful header home. Another lovely goal, but completely against the run of play.

It seemed to calm things down after an edgy period of play for us. But it wouldn’t be Arsenal without a little bit of tension eh? With twenty minutes left we decided to make it interesting and gifted them a goal. Olsson got away down the left and Sagna couldn’t stop the cross. Mertesacker, usually unflappable, sliced his clearance straight into Howson’s path. The midfielder took a touch and then took advantage of Gibbs’ hesitation to smash home at the near post. Szczesny could do nothing despite his fantastic form recently and from a position of comfort, we’d managed to give Norwich a sniff.

It’s often something like this that sparks us into life and it proved that way again. Once Norwich had scored we seemed to move up a gear to make it comfortable again. Things became more fluid and we attacked with more pace and purpose. Rather than being energised, Norwich seemed leggy and Aaron Ramsey was more than happy to take advantage. The Welshman did well to win the ball and give it to Nicklas Bendtner, on for Giroud. The Dane found Wilshere on the left who held the ball up before passing back to Ramsey.

Ramsey goal - Image courtesy of

Not to be outdone by the previous goals, Ramsey proceeded to weave through the Norwich back line, leaving three defenders on their arses and spanked the ball past Ruddy. He’s unstoppable at the moment and his performance was even more brilliant considering he played 180 minutes for Wales during the break and had been pressed into action because of an injury. It secured the points and things were simple from then on. Ramsey enjoyed himself, leaving defenders trailing in his wake and producing one particular moment of jaw dropping skill. 

But we weren’t finished there. Having found a good rhythm and with Norwich crumbling, we added a fourth. Rosicky floated a gorgeous cross to the back post and Ramsey cushioned the ball back to Özil who cooly slotted home. The icing on the cake, a fourth brilliant goal and a second for the German wizard. Norwich, who’d been playing quite well without creating a lot, now looked like they’d concede with every attack. Indeed, they should have conceded a penalty when Özil was blatantly felled in the box, but the referee, either through pity or incompetence (probably a bit of both), refused to give it. So we had to settle for just the four.

We didn’t really hit our best form, yet we still won convincingly. If it was Man Utd the pundits would be raving about how ‘that’s what champions do’. But it’s us, so naturally the pundits are trying t find any reason possible to dismiss us. To be honest, it’s far too early to tell whether we can sustain a challenge and we have a big run coming up in November that will test us in a big way. But all the signs are there that we could really be in the hunt for silverware this year.

I don’t think we’ve hit our best form yet and we’ve still got three hugely talented players to come back over the next couple of weeks. Having the pace and width that Walcott in particular brings will be massively important with games against Dortmund, Liverpool, Chelsea and United. I’m really excited to see what this squad can achieve this year and there are plenty of reasons to be positive. Tuesday sees the visit of Borussia Dortmund and possibly our most challenging game yet. Bring it on.

Stat of the game - Arteta to Özil and Arteta to Sagna were the most prevalent pass combinations, with each occurring 20 times in the game (via FourFourTwo)


Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini (Ramsey 37'), Arteta, Wilshere, Özil, Cazorla (Rosicky 59'), Giroud (Bendtner 78')
Vermaelen, Rosicky, Ramsey, Monreal, Fabianski, Bendtner, Jenkinson

Norwich (4-2-3-1)
Ruddy, Martin, Olsson, Tettey (Hoolahan 79'), Turner, Bassong, Snodgrass, Howson, Hooper, Fer, Pilkington (Redmond 70')
Whittaker, Johnson, Bunn, Hoolahan, Becchio, Redmond, R Bennett

Player Ratings

Szczesny 7/10 Solid as usual, but could again do nothing about the opposition goal
Sagna 7/10 Typically experienced, solid performance
Mertesacker 7/10 At fault for the Norwich goal, but still an authoritative performance
Koscielny 7/10 Also played well and was largely untroubled
Gibbs 7/10 Was having a fine came, but should have done better for the Norwich goal
Flamini 7/10 Was looking typically Flamini like until he knocked himself out
Arteta 6/10 Looked out of sorts, normally unerringly accurate but errant too often
Wilshere 8/10 Scored a stunning goal and looked a constant threat
Özil 8/10 Outrageously talented individual, doesn’t even have to try
Cazorla 7/10 At the heart of a lot attacks, but obviously not quite match fit
Giroud 8/10 Two gorgeous assist and some fantastic hold up play (My MOTM)
Ramsey 8/10 Came off the bench and bossed it. Best player in the league so far
Rosicky 7/10 Always gives something different when he plays, class act
Bendtner N/A Not on for long but showed some neat touches

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Tags: Premier league, Wilshere, Ramsey, Özil, Norwich

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