Norwich 1 Arsenal 2: Brilliant Robin van Persie stars again
The imperious Dutchman sparkled again as Arsenal clinched their second away victory of the season
Where would Arsenal be without Robin van Persie? The in-form Dutchman stole the show once again as the Gunners emerged victorious from a enticing encounter against Norwich City on Saturday.
The 28-year-old’s brace, his 16th and 17th goals of the season that cancelled out Steve Morison’s opener, was enough to give Arsène Wenger’s men only their second away win this term and move the Londoners into sixth place in the table.
Questions remain over Arsenal’s occasional lapses in defence, Per Mertersacker was at fault for the Canaries’ opener, but the Gunners were fully deserving of the win, their sixth victory in seven league games.
The visitors signalled their intent early on as Van Persie fired wide in the seventh minute.
And Wenger’s side should have scored four minutes later when Gervinho fed Theo Walcott, who dummied and fired a left-footed effort towards goal – only to be denied by a heroic last-gasp clearance by Russell Martin.
But Norwich took the lead against the run of play in the 17th minute following poor defending by Mertersacker. The German failed to deal with a simple long ball forward and Morison battled ahead of him to slide the ball past Wojciech Szczesny and put the hosts ahead.
Falling behind only seemed to galvanise the Gunners and they continued to pour forward. Gervinho had the best of a quick flurry of chances after being put through on goal by Van Persie, but the Ivorian’s tame effort was well saved by goalkeeper John Ruddy.
However, relentless Arsenal pressure paid off and they drew level in the 27th minute. Walcott picked out Van Persie with a low cross from the right and the Dutchman was on hand to turn home his 16th goal of the season.
The second half began as an equally open affair. Szczesny saved a dangerous Anthony Pilkington effort from a free-kick. And Gervinho spurned a wonderful opportunity to put the visiting side ahead after being found by Van Persie – but the Ivory Coast international couldn’t direct his effort past Ruddy.
Arsenal then took the lead for the first time in the afternoon in the 59th minute and inevitably it was through the majestic Van Persie.
Alex Song burst forward and played in the in-form Holland striker, who chipped a delightful finish over Ruddy to net his 31st goal in 29 Premier League games in 2011.
Arteta thumped an effort straight at Ruddy and Walcott fired a swerving effort onto the upright in the dying moments. But there was to be no third goal as Arsenal were yet again left to thank Van Persie for another three points.
Norwich City: John Ruddy, Leon Barnett, Marc Tierney, Kyle Naughton, Russell Martin, Andrew Crofts, Wes Hoolahan (Grant Holt, 69), Bradley Johnson, David Fox (Elliott Bennett, 45), Anthony Pilkington (Simeon Jackson, 82), Steve Morison.
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, André Santos, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Theo Walcott (Johan Djourou, 93), Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Alexandre Song, Gervinho (Yossi Benayoun, 78), Robin van Persie.