It’s not often a player bags a brace and doesn’t get MOTM the honors, but when a teammate was as instrumental to orchestrating the attack as Martin Ødegaard was, well, the logic is clear. After an indifferent start to the season, Ødegaard has unleashed his creative force—and may be just starting to scratch the surface. Between him growing into his skills, acclimating himself to his role, and learning his teammates’ roles, preferences, and abilities, this guy could be something quite special. And to think we nabbed him for a paltry £30m. Anyway, he helped us run Norwich into the ground in a virtuoso performance, ruthlessly eviscerating the Canaries with key passes, long balls, and through balls. Those who find themselves saying “it’s just Norwich” should remind themselves that these kinds of performances build confidence and chemistry. Are we going to beat Man City 5-0 now? No. Do we have a right to feel somewhat better about our chances? Yes. All in due time, though. For now, just savor this one. The postponement of the Wolves match gives us a little time to catch our collective breath.
Arsenal coasted to a comfortable victory at Carrow Road, scoring five goals or more for the third consecutive match, two through Saka and one each from Tierney, Lacazette, and Smith-Rowe. Martin Ødegaard gave three assists as he adds to his reputation for creativity; he went into this match having created more goal-scoring opportunities (19) than any other player anywhere. Yes, it’s “just” Norwich, but we’ve frequently struggled against sides like this, and it’s gratifying to say the least to see us batter yet another opponent. That’s five in a row now, four in the Prem, and we even have an almost-respectable +9 goal difference. A fringe-benefit to this cakewalk is that we could save a bit of energy for our match against Wolves, whose match today was postponed. Well, let’s enjoy this one a bit before looking ahead to that one.
Get to the poll by clicking here; a results graphic will be available tomorrow. COYG!
I won’t even get into the ramifications of the following, but we’re level on points with Man City who sport a far-superior goal-difference. City are aiming at a Champions League title, going into their second-leg semifinal at a Ronaldo-less Real Madrid. Liverpool, seventh in the Prem, lost their first-leg 1-0 to Villareal but still have a legitimate shot at winning the Europa League. Elsewhere, Man U, fifth in the Prem but with a game in hand, will play Crystal Palace for a chance at winning the FA Cup. In short, a fourth-place finish no longer feels like it will earn Champions League qualification.
Turning our attention to the one match we can in theory control, Norwich find themselves in a tight, three-way relegation scrap. They’re level on points with Sunderland but trail on goal-difference. Resurgent-ish Newcastle are but a point behind. We did ourselves no favours by drawing with Sunderland last week; a win there might only inspire the Canaries to think they can do the same or better in order to climb out of the cellar. Then again, this is a squad that has one just three times away from Carrow Road (although one of those was at Old Trafford, for what that’s worth). Then again, they’ve only conceded four goals in their last four away-matches.
If our own form had been just a click or two better than “tepid”, none of Norwich’s issues would matter—not one whit. As it stands, though, after draws against Sunderland and Crystal Palace, we’ve looked more like we’re the ones struggling to stave off relegation rather than earn a Champions League spot. The one bright spot from last weekend was the resurrection of Jack Wilshere, who in ten minutes played with more piss and vinegar than most anyone else in the squad had shown all day. In addition, he has some fresh legs, a much-needed attribute when we consider how jaded and dejected so many have seen of late (be they Gunners or Gooners).
After all, one of the highlights of Wilshere’s career has got to be his pornogol against Norwich in 2013, the one that involved no fewer than eight touches among himself, Cazorla and Giroud in a matter of seconds before he was through on goal. I’m not saying he’ll reprise that one, but I will suggest that he’ll provide a crucial spark in this and in our remaining matches.
Norwich 1-1 Arsenal (29.11.2015)
Norwich 0-2 Arsenal (11.05.2014)
Arsenal 4-1 Norwich (19.20.2013)
Norwich have scored just once in their last six away matches.
The two clubs first clahsed on 23 September 1972, a 3-2 win to Norwich.
Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain are doubtful. That is all.
Čech; Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerín; Coquelin, Wilshere; Alexis, Özil, Iwobi; Welbeck.
Arsenal’s sense of urgency simply must overwhelm Norwich’s grim sense of determination.
Arsenal 3-1 Norwich.
It’s inescapable. The only three times we’ve worn it this season, the results have been abominable.
Heck, the kit itself is abominable—and I’ve been sayin’ that since the day it was released. Whether it’s the actual aesthetics (why are those lines slanty? what’s with the colour-scheme? who designed that art-deco A on the back? and so on…) or our squad’s performance in it, there’s no denying the hoodoo it has over us. A more-detailed rundown is in order:
- 27 October: Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Arsenal. Ox gets injured five minute in. Walcott, his replacement, comes up late less than 15 minutes later. Sheffield scores twice before halftime, and this one is over. Try to spare yourself the memory of those god-awful baby-blue shorts and socks.
- 4 November: Bayern 5-1 Arsenal. Bellerín was pre-injured, but Koscielny was an ominous late scratch after picking up a minor hip injury—as if the kit wished to warn us before working its black magic. Three goals in the first half meant that Bayern actually applied a little bit handbrake in the second, allowing us to score while scoring just two more of their own.
- 29 November: Norwich 1-1 Arsenal. Just nine minutes in, Koscielny had to come up after injuring his hip again, but the kit tantalised us, allowing us to take a lead soon after. The kit’s a cruel mistress, though, as the Canaries found an equaliser. Alexis came up lame late in the second half (perhaps Ramsey did as well?). We’d later learn that Cazorla was playing “on one leg, and we’ll find out in coming days just how serious those fresh injuries are.
And now here we are. Three depressing results. Five injuries. We don’t need a new physio. We don’t even need a new signing. What we need is an exorcist. Failing that, some petrol and a match.
After this latest one, I know we’re all gnashing our teeth. I hope we can at least agree on which garment to rend…
one-way traffic for Arsenal, leading up to a delicious goal from Mesut Özil, assisted by Alexis, to open the scoring. However, the Canaries found a toehold and an equaliser just before halftime. Things went from bad to worse when Alexis succumbed to an injury at the 60′ mark, meaning that we’ve now lost two of our best defenders and one of our best attackers in the span of one week. Thus depleted, we lacked the incisiveness or confidence against a Norwich side that seemed content to nick a point from looked on paper to be three points to Arsenal. Well, enough said for now. Give our lads what they deserve in the poll below…