Football

Grandstand finish helps Arsenal to vital win over Norwich

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Three goals in the final seven minutes saw Arsenal fight back to overcome Norwich and win 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium, in the process moving above Spurs and Chelsea into third place.

Michael Turner gave the Canaries the lead ten minutes into the second half, before Mikel Arteta's hugely controversial penalty, Olivier Giroud's two-yard tap in and substitute Lukas Podolski's curler earned Arsenal the three points.

A frustrating first half for the Gunners got a whole lot worse just after the interval when Turner flicked home a free header to give Chris Hughton’s side a precious lead as they looked to secure their Premier League survival.

But a contentious penalty call five minutes from time got the Gunners back in the match, and set up a stunning finale for Arsene Wenger’s side.

A Giroud/Bassong own goal combination edged Arsenal ahead with two minutes to play, before Podolski curled home the third in stoppage time to cap five mad minutes.

The Gunners came into the match looking to continue an excellent run of form. Following their north London derby day defeat, Arsene Wenger’s side had won four on the bounce, including their last three in the Premier League.

The despair felt after the White Hart Lane result had subsided, replaced now by hope – and Arsenal came into the game with the knowledge that three points would see them leapfrog Spurs and Chelsea.

And they had their chances in the first half to ease an anxious crowd’s nerves.

Arsenal controlled possession but their passive reflex too often halted promising situations. Gervinho was simultaneously Arsenal’s most dangerous and most frustrating player, as he twice squandered excellent opportunities.

The first came about through his own perseverance, skipping past Norwich captain Michael Turner and driving into the box. But once there he froze in characteristically Gervinhian fashion – delaying the pass until the last possible moment before Turner nipped back to dispossess him. The jeers from the crowd were inevitable.

His second opportunity was Arsenal’s best. Santi Cazorla picked the otherwise impressive Norwich defence expertly, and Gervinho sprung the offside trap, only to take a truly dreadful first touch around the keeper, forcing him too far wide.

He prodded the ball goalward, and perhaps could have expected a teammate to race on to tap in, but the acuteness of the angle saw the ball trickle across the face and cleared.

Giroud had a couple of half chances, Norwich stopper Mark Bunn saving well on one occasion, but Arsene Wenger was left frustrated by impotent passing as the half ended goalless.

And the Gunners were made to pay by a well disciplined Chris Hughton side. A Robert Snodgrass free-kick was headed home by Turner just 10 minutes after the restart. The former-Sunderland man rising and planting home a free header from eight yards out.

Wenger responded immediately – Gervinho hauled off for Lukas Podolski and Jack Wilshere – who had stayed down after a couple of heavy challenges – replaced by Theo Walcott. The subs proved to be the catalyst for the comeback.

The England winger made an immediate difference, burning past Steven Whittaker before being bundled over in the box – but referee Mike Jones waved the penalty appeal away.

Lukas Podolski then crashed a shot off the crossbar after a neat layoff from Olivier Giroud, as Norwich looked to desperately cling on. But their spirited rearguard action was eventually breached with just five minutes remaining – and in controversial fashion.

A debateable corner was given to the Gunners, and from the resulting kick the assistant referee flagged for a penalty – possibly for a pull on Giroud’s shirt – although the referee was unmoved. But after a brief consultation with his assistant, he pointed to the spot - Chris Hughton was left fuming and keeper Mark Bunn was booked for his protests. Mikel Arteta stepped up and buried it to level the score.

Arsenal and the home crowd were fired up, and superb work by Chamberlain down the right led to Arsenal’s second three minutes later. The England man worked a one-two with Podolski before his cross was bundled home by a combination of Giroud and Sebastien Bassong.

Lukas Podolski then wrapped up the points in stoppage time with a low shot into the corner from 18 yards after direct running from Walcott – all three of Wenger’s substitutes making telling contributions to a vital three points.

The result moves Arsenal one point ahead of Tottenham and Chelsea in the race for a Champions League spot with six games to play. 

Norwich will rue what might have been had the assistant not flagged for a penalty, and they will continue to look nervously over their shoulder just four points clear of the relegation zone.

 

Topics:
Arsenal
Football
Premier League
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