Arsenal (2) 4 Norwich City (0) 0
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Wednesday, 1st July 2020. Kick-off time: 6.00pm
(3-4-2-1) Emiliano Martínez; Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac; Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney; Reiss Nelson, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Cédric Soares, Nicolas Pépé, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Matt Macey, Bukayo Saka
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (32 mins, 67 mins), Granit Xhaka (37 mins), Cédric Soares (80 mins)
Yellow Cards: Emiliano Martínez
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 52%
Referee: Peter Bankes
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions
For the first time since the one-nil victory over West Ham United on Saturday 7th March, we find ourselves finally playing a home game in the Premiership, even though none of our wonderful supporters will be present in the stadium to witness this evening’s match, sadly. It goes beyond words to state that every point is precious now, and each man must play their part for the club until the end of this topsy-turvy season. Our visitors tonight may well be currently residing at the bottom of the Premiership table, but that does not mean that should they should not be taken just as seriously as anyone else who plys their trade in the Premier League. Great to see young Reiss Nelson getting a start tonight, as well as Cédric Soares included as part of the substitutes’ bench too; this shows good intent and a real desire to change things around by Mikel Arteta. Nothing more than a victory tonight will do.
Arsenal certainly got the best of the early exchanges, and although Norwich were on the back foot, they certainly didn’t crumble under the relentless pressure from our forwards. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got the first shot on target after ten minutes, and it became apparent that we had everything under control so early in the game. Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney were working the wings very well, moving into the spaces that Norwich had kindly left open for our speedy wing-backs to exploit. After twenty minutes, our defenders sloppily left just enough space for Ben Godfrey to hit the post from circa thirty yards with Emiliano Martínez grasping for air, and after the drinks break, we took control of the match again. David Luiz was unlucky not to score from a thirty-yard free kick on the half hour, and by now it was looking like we would be the first team to score. Tim Krol made a horrific error on the edge of his area; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang blocked the ball, then simply took the ball around him and with the most simplest of tasks, put Arsenal one-up on the night. A few minutes later, David Luiz placed a long ball over to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left, who quickly slotted the ball to Kieran Tierney. He took the ball to the byline, and crossed it for Granit Xhaka to finish the job and score our second goal of the night. In injury time, Emiliano Martínez made an acrobatic save to deny the vistors a goal; the subsequent corner led to nothing, and so we went into the break comfortably in the lead, overall.
Rob Holding replaced Shkodran Mustafi for the second half, and although Norwich started to wake up a bit, with one or two excitble chances, Arsenal were hardly bothered, to be fair. We contained the visitors very well, and we found that the best way to deal with them was to play a high pressing game, but in doing that, we left one or two spaces at the back, which Norwich tried desperately to capitalise on. Joe Willock replaced Reiss Nelson after fifty-seven minutes, and in doing so, changed the shape of the team by moving Alexandre Lacazette up with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make a double-pronged attack on the Norwich defence. The visitors had a tepid penalty call, which was denied by the VAR team at Stockley Park; good to see them get something right for a change. Joe Willock blasted a ball over the bar from just inside the penalty area, then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got our third of the night after sixty-seven minutes following another dreadful defensive error from Norwich, and with fifiteen minutes left, Hector Bellerin and Alexandre Lacazette were replaced by Eddie Nketiah and Cédric Soares to get fresh legs out there for the remainder of the match. Cédric Soares, on his debut, blasted Arsenal’s fourth goal of the night from twenty yards, and two-goal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was substituted for Nicolas Pépé with nine minutes remaining. By now of course, the job was done, and the rest of the match was simply one of containment on our part.
There’s nothing like a good win to put a smile on everyone’s face, and with three wins in a week, life is good. Everyone played their part tonight, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was in unbelievable form, whilst Emiliano Martínez pulled off some fine saves to prevent Norwich getting on the score sheet. Our debutant Cédric Soares scored a dream third goal, whilst David Luiz, it has to be said, was superb at the back. Oh, and we are a point above Spurs in the table too! Saturday’s match against Wolves at Molineux will be a better test for us, but with the confidence that tonight’s win under our collective belts can give us, who knows? Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux Stadium, Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton WV1 4QR on Saturday, 4th July at 5.30pm(Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.