German playmaker Mesut Ozil justified his status as Arsenal’s
most expensive player, scoring twice as the Gunners showed great
offensive power and extended its lead in the English Premier League
to two points with a 4-1 win over Norwich on Saturday.
Now unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions, Arsene Wenger’s
team dominated and was rewarded with a superb goal in the 18th
minute when Jack Wilshere concluded a swift collective move after
Olivier Giroud flicked the ball between four defenders to set up
the England striker.
Having recovered from the knee injury he sustained while playing
for Germany midweek, Ozil scored his first league goal to double
his team’s lead with a header from Giroud’s cross in the 58th after
a fast counterattack.
Jonathan Howson pulled one back for Norwich before Aaron Ramsey
and Ozil put the game to bed.
With Santi Cazorla also returning to midfield, Arsenal did not
lack creativity but struggled to unsettle Norwich in the first 15
minutes, as the visitors enjoyed good spells of possession.
Arsenal broke the deadlock when Wilshere beat the offside trap
and the Gunners then took control of the game, pressing for the
ball high and producing the type of free-flowing football they have
been playing since the start of the season.
Giroud came close in the 37th minute after Kieran Gibbs cut the
ball back for the Frenchman in the area, but Norwich goalkeeper
John Ruddy produced an excellent reflex save at the near post to
deny his left-footed effort.
Norwich worked hard to come back into the game and created its
best chances towards the end of the first half. Arsenal goalkeeper
Wojciech Szczesny was forced to stretch out to deny Leroy Fer’s
effort from outside the area.
Norwich continued its good spell after the break and put Arsenal
under pressure, but its defense held firm before Ozil doubled his
team’s lead with a header.
Norwich players did not give up as Arsenal sat back and Howson
made the most of Per Mertesacker’s attempted clearance to put the
Canaries back in the game, sending the ball past Szczesny in the
bottom corner in the 70th minute.
Arsenal pushed hard afterwards and substitute Ramsey scored a
brilliant goal after dribbling past two defenders to make it 3-1
with his ninth goal of the season before Ozil slotted home from
Tomas Rosicky’s cross.
”We were well in the game and at halftime we felt that if we
had good periods like we did in (the) first half, we could get
something from the game,” Norwich manager Chris Hughton said.
”But they have wonderful players who, when they have half-chances,
can turn them into goals.”