Norwich City 1 Arsenal 2

Robin Van Persie continued his red hot form with another double strike at Carrow road that saw Arsenal come from a goal down to record their second consecutive away Premiership victory, and also achieve their second win on the road this season. Against the run of play, Steve Morison had given the Canaries a shock opener after a defensive blunder that Per Mertersacker will not want to see again, but that was until the Dutch master and Gunners’ captain stamped his mark on this fixture. Van Persie netted a goal in either half that sees the Gunners’ continue their fine form with the Arsenal number 10 now having scored an incredible 31 goals in this calender year, a period which spans 29 games.

The current Premiership goal record stands at 36 from Alan Shearer, and given his scintillating form and the fact that Arsenal still have seven Premiership games left between now and the end of 2011, then there is every possibility that Van Persie will have another record under his belt.

Row Z

Arsenal enjoyed another lively start, with only the defensive alertness of Russell Martin coming between them and their taking a commanding first half lead. Martin cleared off his line on three occasions that left Arsene Wenger a touch irritated on the bench. Martin first cleared Walcott’s effort over the bar, his shot coming from the right after he was put in by Gervinho on 11 minutes. Five minutes later and Norwich took the lead. Mertersacker was the wrong side of Morison after a long ball over the top, and his indecision when he should really have cleared the ball into row Z allowed the Norwich forward in on Wojciech Szczesny for a cool finish.

Arsenal momentum

Both sides like to play open football, and given Arsenal’s overwhelming possession, one felt that more goals would follow.Van Persie saw a shot go wide after a neat passing move, and Andre Santos couldn’t get beyond John Ruddy from 25 yards out. Mid way through the first half, and Martin cleared Van Persie’s looping header off the line, and then on 24 minutes, Gervinho should have levelled, when through, but Martin and Ruddy combined to deny the Ivorian. The Arsenal momentum however was building, and four minutes later Van Persie levelled.

Excellent Vermaelen

Theo Walcott has stated his desire to have a more central role, but it was his ingenuity that crafted Arsenal’s first goal of the afternoon. The Arsenal number 14 slipped the ball past Marc Tierney, then blazed back onto his own pass before the ball fell to Van Persie via Gervinho for a straight forward tap in. If the offensive side of the Gunners play has to be marvelled at, then the defensive side continues to improve, and especially given the robust nature and intelligence of Thomas Vermaelen’s game. Arsene Wenger elected to play Laurent Koscileny at right back, with Mertersacker partnering Vermaelen in the centre and Santos on the right. Given Koscielny’s good understanding with Vermaelen, a strong case exists for the duo to start together, and for Johan Djourou at right back. On this form, Mertersacker needs to get to grips with the rigours on the Premiership game and quickly.

Holland marksman

Arsenal started the second half with determination to grab the lead, and saw chances for Gervinho, with a header and Ramsey, with a volley from a tight angle go begging. Gervinho should have given the Gunners the lead on 55 minutes, when he was slipped in by Van Persie. The Ivorian rounded the grounded Ruddy, but not completely, allowing the Norwich keeper to save at the second time of asking. Again one wondered if this would be another afternoon of frustration for Wenger and his side. Cometh the hour however and cometh the man. Alex Song picked up the ball from the centre circle and surged with Gervinho on his left and Van Persie on his right. Song fed Van Persie, and as Ruddy came out, the Holland marksman intelligently chipped the ‘keeper to give Arsenal a lead they would not relinquish.

Vocal

There was still over thirty minutes to negotiate however, and Norwich through Anthony Pilkington and the in your face game of substitute Grant Holt provided a sufficient test for the Arsenal rearguard to negotiate. But in their inimitable Arsenal style to attack to the end, Mikel Arteta tested Ruddy and Walcott saw a couple of chances, with a 88th minute shot that crashed into the woodwork, that almost extended the Arsenal lead. The game may have been a bit edgy in the end for the large vocal travelling Arsenal support, but they like the players and the three points were happily going to return to north London, as the Gunners begin to further close in on the top of the Premiership.