Arsenal went to Norwich in the early kick off on Saturday knowing that they needed a win to put pressure on the teams above them. I had said before the game that Arsenal needed to take their chances to ensure victory, and they just about managed to take enough chances to take all three points. During the first half Arsenal missed so many good chances that I was worried they would pay a price for it later.
When Per Mertesacker made a mess of clearing a long hopeful ball from Norwich in the 16th minute Norwich took their only real chance in the first half and went 1-0 up. Arsenal had played really well before that goal, and opened up the Norwich defence at will. It only took Arsenal 11 minutes to equalise when Robin Van Persie slotted home after some good work by Theo Walcott.
Before that goal Norwich's Russell Martin had cleared off the line to save them on three seperate occasions. The first of those clearances was from a Walcott effort which looked destined for the back of the net. I don't think Martin knew exactly how he managed to put the ball over the bar, and Walcott could have done no more to try to score.
Arsenal's intensity fell off a little after the equaliser, but they still missed a couple of good chances before the break. Arsenal took the lead 14 minutes into the second half when the Aaron Ramsey won the ball in midfield, and the referee played a good advantage after he was dragged down. Alex Song broke clear and played in RVP who chipped the ball over the advancing goalkeeper into the corner of the net.
Song had a choice of RVP or Gervinho to play in, but thankfully he chose RVP as Gervinho definitely didn't have his shooting boots on. Both Gervinho and Walcott had a lot of joy in the wide positions, but I'm not quite sure how they ended the game without a goal between them.
Arsenal's inability to finish Norwich off made things a little nervy towards the end, but they held out with relative ease to take all three points. The only real disappointment for me was that Arsenal didn't take the opportunity to increase their goal difference. A few more goals should have been scored, and they would have helped to close the game on the three other teams who are level on points with Arsenal.
Saturday's victory was Arsenal's fifth in a row in the Premier League, and they are right back in the race to finish in a Champions League place. Four of the teams above them played each other this weekend, and next weekend will see more of the same with Manchester United playing Newcastle and Liverpool playing Manchester City too. A win for Arsenal at home to Fulham next Saturday evening could possibly see them move into the top four for the first time this season.
Before that game there's the vital Champions League group game at home to Borussi Dortmund on Wednesday night. Arsenal top the group at the moment, but with Marseille at home to Olympiacos the chances are they will need a victory against Dortmund to stay there going into the last game. It won't be an easy task against a team which won away to Bayern Munich at the weekend to put themselves right back in contention in their defence of their German league title.
The goal was scored by Arsenal target Mario Gotze, and he will be the player to watch on Wednesday night in my opinion. If Arsenal were to directly replace Cesc Fabregas he would be one of the few players possibly capable of filling the role. Arsenal will be trying to sign him in January I'm sure, and his addition to the team could be the factor to push them on to greater things if he arrives.
His addition would give Arsenal some excellent options in midfield with Ramsey, Abu Diaby, Mikael Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere all competing for two places. It's a headache Arsene Wenger would be delighted to have I'm sure, and hopefully he will get the chance in January. If Arsenal can win on Wednesday night and ensure Dortmund cannot qualify for the last 16 it could just be the catalyst Gotze needs to move.
That's it for today.
Here's the highlights from Saturday's game(with thanks to 101greatgoals)
See You Tomorrow.