Arsenal 1-0 Norwich City: Gunners Scrape Past Canaries

Danny Welbeck’s second-half volley was enough for Arsenal to claim all three points over Norwich City on Saturday evening.

The Englishman came off the bench ten minutes into the second period and took just three minutes to make an impact on the game, and give the Gunners top four prospects a timely boost.

Much of the talk pre-game was predicated by speculation over the proposed #TimeForChange protest by the fans on the 12th and 78th minutes, which simply seemed to highlight the division among supporters. While some actioned the call for change, others stood and proudly sang the name of the Arsenal manager.

Back to the football, and Arsene Wenger kept faith with the same side that drew 0-0 with Sunderland last weekend, and was also boosted by the return of Santi Cazorla the the bench.

With both sides needing points at opposite ends of the table, the game was a naturally cagey affair, with the visitors arguably having the best of the chances. Petr Cech was forced into a smart save to deny Nathan Redmond, while Arsenal’s clearest opening fell the way of Alex Iwobi, who snatched a shot wide of the post.

Towards the end of the half, Redmond was again denied by Cech, who beat away his fierce drive to keep the scores level. A nervous Arsenal performance to say the least.

Norwich again came out for the second half on the front foot, before Per Mertesacker was forced off the pitch through injury and replaced by Gabriel. The introduction of Welbeck came shortly afterwards.

Within minutes, Arsenal had the lead. Hector Bellerin crossed from the right for Olivier Giroud to knock down to Welbeck, who volleyed smartly into the bottom corner. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Norwich responded by introducing Dieumerci Mbokani, who would have leveled had it not been for a terrific last-ditch tackle from Gabriel.

The highlight of the game came shortly after, when Mesut Ozil produced one of the passes of the season to set Alexis Sanchez free, but his shot from distance was comfortably saved by John Ruddy. Ozil was then denied by Ruddy with a volley of his own as Arsenal searched for the goal that would make the points safe.

Mohamed Elneny hit a fierce shot that was tipped over by Ruddy to keep the Canaries in the game, and despite some late pressure from the visitors, Arsenal held on for a crucial win.

Much of the news being reported following the game will of course be dominated by the protest within the game, but the win was vital in terms of cementing a top-four finish. The victory keeps both Manchester United and West Ham United at arms length and although the season will of course be put under scrutiny, qualifying for the Champions League remains imperative.

Next up for Arsenal is a trip to Manchester City, where a win in all likelihood help confirm a top three finish.

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker (Gabriel, 50), Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Ramsey; Sanchez (Coquelin, 84), Ozil, Iwobi (Welbeck, 56); Giroud

Unused Subs: Ospina, Walcott, Wilshere, Cazorla

Norwich City: Ruddy; Pinto, Bassong (Jarvis, 88), Martin, Olsson; Redmond, O’Neil, Howson, Brady (Naismith, 78), Hoolahan (Mbokani, 67); Jerome

Unused Subs: Rudd, Whittaker, Dorans, Mulumbu

 

 

 

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