It is the stage of the season where the points are far more important than the performance. That is just as well. This victory was highly amusing for a number of reasons, but Norwich came close to doing what other sides with limited ability and ambition have sometimes achieved at the Grove since we moved just down the road.
For the thick end of an hour this game was all about Norwich shutting up shop and us playing crab football ahead of them. From side to side we moved the ball, seemingly with a lack of urgency. The considered opinion around the halfway line was that we were missing the directness of Tomas Rosicky. Injured he was and it is pointless reflecting on his absence.
Midway through the opening half it looked as though our patience would be rewarded, but Olivier Giroud’s flick missed the target. Shortly afterwards Gervinho got clear but having been forced wide he was unable to give us the lead we craved.
The second half was barely ten minutes old when the visitors won a dubious free-kick. What happened next was not open to doubt or interpretation. Turner escaped the infamous zonal marking to head home a cross from former Stirling Albion loanee Robert Snodgrass. Arsenal were facing an unacceptable reverse.
Now karma can be quite the beast, As the match had progressed so Mark Bunn, in the Norwich goal, had taken longer and longer over his clearances and goal-kicks. At one point he even turned to the Arsenal supporters behind his goal and engaged in what one might generously term as banter. It would be returned, and how.
The equaliser arrived when the referee’s assistant did the job of his boss, and a penalty was awarded for Giroud being hauled to earth. Mikel Arteta put us level with just seven minutes remaining. We had momentum. In all honesty it was not a surprise when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain crossed for Giroud to add a second just a couple of minutes later, and a similar gap elapsed before Lukas Podolski lashed home a third.
Now I don’t pretend that we were worth a 3-1 win, but equally I don’t believe that Norwich were worth more than the nothing that they took home. We have played better and come a cropper this season. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. The big game is now the home match with Everton on Tuesday evening. We are up to third place in the table after today’s result, and Everton would like to achieve something similar.
Not that long ago I don’t mind admitting I doubted our chances of snatching that top four berth, but now it is ours to lose. There will be twists yet to come, I have no doubt, but credit to this team for lifting themselves in recent weeks. The last couple of wins have been nervous affairs, but we are displaying great determination. Let’s hope we can maintain it in the closing weeks.
Oh, and can I just add, having narrowly failed to land the ‘holic pound yesterday, come on Angel Cabrera. This could yet be a very profitable weekend.
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