A horror mistake at the back by Mertesacker that gifted Norwich the lead was the foundation for a tense match as Arsenal came from behind to record their fifth straight Premier League win. The gunners had a whole host of chances to score, particularly in the opening half, but failed to capitalise on them with captain fantastic Robin van Persie having to secure the victory with his fifth brace of the season.
With the absence of young Carl Jenkinson, Wenger decided defender Laurent Koscielny was the best option following his rich vein of form in recent weeks with Mertesacker and Vermaelen in the middle and Santos on the left. While not as adventurous as young Jenkinson, Koscielny provided the kind of solidity we may need in the tougher matches and could be utilised at right-back again after containing Norwich’s danger man Pilkington very well.
In terms of offence it must be said that both Walcott and Gervinho gave Norwich plenty to think about, particularly in the first half. Walcott was a terror to the Norwich defence, utilising his pace to get in behind and ultimately played provider for Van Persie’s first goal and was unlucky not to score a couple of goals of his own. While Gervinho was poor in the second half, in the first he was one of the best player for the gunners and should have had at least one goal to his name.
Overall though it was a pretty solid performance from the gunners, besides of course the error by Mertesacker on the quarter hour mark. The victory was very important provided the top of the table clashes and the potential for us to move up the table this week, as well as maintaining our confidence. We look forward to the midweek game against Dortmund now as Arsenal look to book their place in the knock-out phase of the Champions League. Hopefully this victory will aid our upcoming performance.
on the three points…
We should have got there at the start because we missed some early chances. In the first 20 minutes we had at least three clear-cut opportunities and on top of that we were 1-0 down. That made the game difficult against a very dynamic Norwich side.
But backs against the wall we did very well again today, like we did at Chelsea. In the second half, once we got to 2-1 we controlled the game well and were never really in trouble. Overall it is a very positive win today. The team is growing from game to game, getting stronger and you feel there is some mental strength inside there.
on the importance of Robin van Persie…
Van Persie is 28, Fabregas and Nasri left at 24. My dream is that Van Persie stays until the end of his career at this Club. I will do the maximum I can to try to convince him and I hope I will manage to do that.
on Robin’s credentials as one of the world’s best…
He has some competitors there but he is one of the best of course. It is always difficult to say he is the only one. He is exceptional and he has something that you cannot give to people. Today he finished with a chip on his right foot – and I have never seen a bigger left-footed player than Robin van Persie. He always makes the right decisions in a fraction of a second when there is little time available. That makes him exceptional.
on the Norwich goal…
I must say I was upset with the referee at the time but I will have to check that on the television. I thought that Morison brought him down with his left hand.
But I told Per that when you are in England facing goal, maybe in many countries you are safe but not here. That’s what he has learned today.
Koscielny Mertesacker Vermaelen Santos
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
Wojciech Szczesny | 6.0: Had relatively little to do for the entirety of the match. While blameless for Norwich’s opening goal, he might have hoped to do better due to fact he got a hand on the ball
Laurent Koscielny | 6.5: The Frenchman had a solid debut at right-back and played very well on defence with good positioning. Contained Pilkington well but looked uncomfortable pushing forward.
Thomas Vermaelen | 7.5: As always, the Verminator was sharp and solid today and also pushed up on the occasion. Was strong defending set-pieces
Per Mertesacker | 4.5: The amateur error he made on the quarter hour mark unfortunately overrides anything positive about his performance. The German will be disappointed he was caught at the back, but hopefully he will learn from his mistake.
Andre Santos | 6.0: Its the same story for the Brazilian. Looks very comfortable on attack and managed to force a save in the 20th minute, but at times on defence one must feel he gets beaten too easily on some occasions.
Alex Song | 5.5: It was an uncharacteristic performance by the Cameroon midfielder, who gave possession away cheaply on too many occasions. Did well to release Van Persie for he second goal though after Ramsey was felled in the middle of the pitch.
Mikel Arteta | 6.0: The Spaniard showed his ability to safely distribute without being overly threatening. Will be disappointed with some of his set-pieces and some of the mistakes he made on the ball.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.0: Was involved in many of Arsenal’s attacking plays and was willing to get forward and into the box, but at times lacked the killer final ball.
Theo Walcott | 8.0: The Englishman had a menacing performance. Was a constant threat to the Norwich defence with his pace and runs. Created the first goal and went close to getting a goal on a couple of occasions. It will now be a matter of consistently producing performances such as this one.
Gervinho | 6.5: The Ivorian also had a great performance, but mainly in the first half. Certainly got himself into dangerous situations, but lacked the finishing to buldge the back of the net. Faded in the second half.
Robin van Persie| 8.5: Another exceptional performance from the Dutchman. Grabbed a tidy brace and the gamewinner, always seems to be in the right place at the right time and also showed his ability to produce a killer final pass when he provided a great through ball that gave Gervinho a clear cut one-on-one with the keeper.
- Notable Substitutions