Arsenal 1 Norwich City 0
Welbeck 59

Arsene Wenger was left pleased as his Arsenal side overcame relegation-threatened Norwich City on a tough afternoon at the Emirates Stadium. Susbtitute Danny Welbeck scored the only goal minutes after coming on during the second half after Arsenal had been left frustrated for much of the game.

“It was much wanted and much needed. It was difficult. We played against a team who were very well organised,” said Wenger, who was the subject of protests by a small section of the home supporters.

“We didn’t find a good pace in our game but we were serious and organised, and in the end we got the win. In the first half we needed to be patient.

He added: “In the second half, it was a deserved win against a team that fights not to go down.”

In some bright early exchanges, Norwich were no match for Arsenal’s high-tempo, possession game. Alexis Sanchez, as expected, was a bundle of energy. Meanwhile, Mohamed Elneny showed his ability to manage a game with some good touches in the centre of midfield.

Arsenal’s early dominance should have seen them rewarded with a goal. Olivier Giroud had a shot blocked early on by defender Russell Martin as the home side tried to snatch an early lead. The signs were good.

By the time this match took place, Norwich had been dragged into the bottom three in the division. This would have no doubt influenced manager Alex Neil’s final words as his players crossed the white line for this crucial match in their season.

Meanwhile, Arsenal fans’ protests took place in the 12th minute as planned, but for every supporter holding up a ‘Time for Change’ placard, there seemed to be another one lending his backing to Wenger.

Wenger added: “It was a bit of a strange atmosphere. We have to live with that. Some fans were protesting, yes, but a big majority didn’t and the big majority was behind the team.

“They showed that they appreciate what I’ve done until now, so it’s alright. It was a difficult atmosphere yes, but we have just to live with that, give more, focus on our performance and try to make 100 per cent of our fans happy. That’s our target.”

As the half wore on, Norwich’s players grew in confidence, and in a first half lacking and more clear cut chances from either side, Arsenal’s forward players had little opportunity to test goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Moments before the interval, however, Norwich’s players nearly stunned the home crowd when Nathan Redmond lashed a fine volleyed effort goalwards from within the penalty area. An alert Petr Cech and an outstretched boot blocked the shot, but it left frayed nerves amongst the Arsenal ranks.

Wenger made his first tactical switch on 57 minutes, bringing on Welbeck in favour of Alex Iwobi. It didn’t take long for the striker to make his impact.

After pressing their opponents deep into their own half, a ball was played into the penalty area towards Giroud. The Frenchman rose above his marker, diverting the ball towards Welbeck, lurking yards away from him.

The England front-man responded well as the ball came towards him, confidently striking it powerfully into the corner of the goal, beyond the dive of Ruddy. The crowd exploded as the ball nestled in the net.

At the other end, Norwich, and Redmond in particular, remained a threat, though less so in the second half.

On 70 minutes, he broke down the flank, beating his marker for pace. He lifted his head before crossing low for substitute Dieumerci Mbokani. The striker’s close range shot was blocked by Cech.

A few moments later, Mesut Ozil tested Ruddy’s reactions with a stunning half-volley from thirty yards. It was well saved by the Norwich goalkeeper, who tipped the ball over the crossbar.

Elneny tested Ruddy with seven minutes to go as Arsenal’s players continued to push for more goals. Arsenal, however, saw out the remainder of the match without incident.