Morison 16 – van Persie 26, 59
It gives some idea how far Norwich have come in the 100 league games since Paul Lambert became manager that this time two years ago they were playing Tranmere Rovers.
The visit of the Gunners was the first by one of the big teams to Carrow Road since the home side gained back-to-back promotions from League One and it was the open, entertaining game many had hoped for.
The Canaries rose through the divisions playing attacking, entertaining football and they haven’t compromised their style of play since they regained their place in the top flight.
So it was that they consistently gave Arsenal problems throughout the 90 minutes of this match, taking the lead and piling on the pressure in search of what would have been a not undeserved equaliser even when they went 2-1 down.
Arsene Wenger’ team produced what has become known as a ‘typical’ Arsenal performance, dominating early possession before falling behind because of a defensive error.
Per Mertesacker was bought on transfer deadline day after Wenger’s philosophy had been laid open to question by his team’s poor start to the season but you have to wonder if Mertesacker was the answer, what the question was once again he was found wanting in spectacular style.
This time it was Grant Morison who made the German look like a carthorse on stilts by easily muscling him off the ball when Mertesacker should have been able to clear easily. The Welsh international then finished easily.
Last season the Gunners had the Premier League’s best away record but this season they had just four points from their first five on the road. Norwich however are almost guaranteed to give away goals, having not kept a clean sheet all season.
Predictably as Arsenal built up the pressure they were on level terms within 10 minutes after Theo Walcott easily beat Marc Tierney on the left flank before crossing for Robin van Persie to tap home.
Van Persie also grabbed the second in the 60th minute. Aaron Ramsey took the ball off Bradley Johnson in the centre circle before Alex Song passed forward for van Persie to chip the onrushing John Ruddy for the goal.
That should have been that but despite ultimately notching up their second away win in a row the Gunners, as they so often do, were unable to close out the game convincingly. As in the first 10 minutes they again dominated possession in the last ten and Norwich provided a threat right to the end. A draw wouldn’t have been an unfair result and, ironically given the result, Lambert could be the happier of the two managers come the final whistle as his side tested one of the League’s best teams right to the end.
On the morning of this game it was Wenger was quoted in L’Equipe as saying he’ll consider his position at the end of the season. He’ll be happy with the three points and despite that being The Gunners six win in seven games he must surely be aware that the defensive weaknesses which have so often been his side’s undoing from the League Cup final to the 4-4 at Newcastle were still in evidence. Maybe this performance, if not the result, will push him a little closer to choosing the door marked ‘exit’.
Norwich (4-3-3): Ruddy, Naughton, Russell Martin, Barnett, Tierney; Crofts, Johnson, Fox (Bennett 46); Pilkington (Jackson 81), Hoolahan (Holt 69), Morison.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Szczesny, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos; Ramsey, Arteta, Song; Walcott (Djourou 90+2), van Persie, Gervinho (Benayoun 78).
Did you know… Norwich met Arsenal at Highbury on the first day of the first Premier League season and won 4-2.