Arsenal come back to beat Norwich

Sat, 19 Nov 15:43:00 2011

Arsenal claimed a fifth-straight Premier League victory after coming from behind to beat Norwich City 2-1 at Carrow Road.

Norwich 1 Arsenal 2

Steve Morison gave the Canaries the lead against the run of play on 17 minutes after some lacklustre defending from Per Mertesacker, only for the Gunners to level just before the half-hour mark, predictably enough through Robin van Persie.

The Arsenal captain then scored again in the second half to take his Premier League goal tally in 2011 to 31. Only Thierry Henry and Alan shearer have scored more times in a single calendar year.

The win lifts Arsenal one place in the table to sixth, below local rivals Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference. Liverpool can reclaim sixth place with a win at Chelsea on Sunday.

Arsenal travelled to East Anglia having not lost in their last 10 league trips to Carrow Road, and they could have been three goals to the good in the first 10 minutes on their latest visit.

No sooner had the game kicked off than Theo Walcott was sent scampering away down the right, but Van Persie could only scuff the England winger's pass pulled back from the byline.

Moments later Walcott was himself denied when Gervinho squared the ball to him only for his shot to be blocked by Marc Tierney, the Norwich left-back already being given a torrid time by the player he was charged with marking for 90 minutes.

Once again Walcott went close when he checked back on to his left foot and bent his shot around goalkeeper John Ruddy, only for Russell Martin to leap in and make a dramatic goal-line block. The Scotland defender would make such clearances twice more before the half was out, although that was far and away the pick of the bunch.

For all their attacking guile arsenal were once again undone by defensive uncertainty when Per Mertesacker - caught in two minds between shielding the ball back to Wojciech Szczesny and clearing it - was muscled off the ball all too easily by Morison, and the Welshman finished neatly past Szczesny for his fourth goal of the season.

The joy was unconfined at Carrow Road as the newly-promoted home side's impressive start to the season continued, but it lasted just 10 minutes before Arsenal equalised.

Walcott executed the oldest trick in the book by knocking the ball past Tierney and running around his the other way before firing a low ball across the six-yard box. Gervinho almost turned the ball in with a flick, but Van Persie was behind him to tap into the unguarded net.

That goal meant that each of the last seven goals set up by Walcott in the league had been finished by Van Persie.

Norwich manager Paul Lambert made a positive substitution at the break, bringing on Elliott Bennett for David Fox, but Arsenal continued to create the majority of the chances after the break.

Gervinho sent a header too close to Ruddy before he was sent one-on-one with the keeper but somehow failed to score after taking the ball around him.

A second goal did come on the hour-mark when Alex Song capitalised on a mistake by Martin. The Cameroon midfielder fed Van Persie with a neat ball, and the Arsenal captain dinked a delightful weighted finish over Ruddy for his 14th goal in 17 club appearances this season.

Norwich showed plenty of the desire and drive as they refused to give up. Pilkington could have tested Szczesny when he met Kyle Naughton's cross at the near post but guided it wide, before Grant Holt gave Mertesacker plenty to think about when he came on for the final 20 minutes.

But Arsenal closed out the win to consign their disastrous earl-season form further into the past.

Tony Mabert - on Twitter @tony_mabert / Eurosport

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