London – There was no denying the beauty of Arsenal’s football at an enraptured Emirates. Four picture-book goals were enough to keep Arsene Wenger’s team firmly at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
The challenge that lies ahead now, though, is an altogether more prosaic one. Arsenal need to maintain this momentum.
As young Aaron Ramsey pointed out after Saturday’s game, beautiful football counts for very little if you end the year in fourth place.
“One of the biggest things was to come through the start of the season,” said the Welshman, scorer of a sumptuous third Arsenal goal.
“We’ve had to play catch-up in recent years and hopefully we can continue to build on that and stay strong until well after Christmas.
“Other teams are struggling, other teams are taking points off each other and it’s important to keep going and getting results.
“We have bigger games to come and they are the games that every player wants to play in.
“We’ll be looking to prove we can last the pace. We’re top of the league at the moment and that’s where we want to stay.”
It’s hard to know where to start in describing the nature of Arsenal’s four goals against Norwich.
Jack Wilshere’s opener was perhaps the pick – Wenger will ask for a diagram of that one on his gravestone – but young Ramsey scored a goal that few footballers in Europe could manage, freezing the blood in his veins to weave a path through a crowded penalty area and scoring with his right foot.
It was an important goal, too, as Norwich were in the game at 2-1 at that point.
Ramsey’s effort was greeted with a mere thumbs-up by Wenger but the Arsenal manager will have known how important that was.
With his team eight points clear of Manchester United and keeping other challengers at arm’s length, too, Wenger is aware that opportunity knocks for him as we head towards winter. “The first goal is what you dream about, it’s close to perfection,” he said.
“I think this goal will travel a lot because it will be seen a lot.
“Looking at the league, United are not out of the title race and we are only two points in front of all the others.
“If you have a choice, nobody wants to be eight points behind.
“If you have the choice, you want to be in the race at the top.
“But you cannot rule Manchester United out today. They have big players, big experience and they are a big club. It’s three games basically – that is very quick in our league.’
Wenger did have one piece of more sombre news on Saturday, revealing that Theo Walcott has suffered a setback on his way back from injury and faces at least two more weeks out of action.
When he looks at the tapes of this game, meanwhile, he will perhaps recognise that his team still look a little too vulnerable when the opposition have the ball.
Arsenal looked secure enough here until Mathieu Flamini went off midway through the first half.
From then on, however, their back four didn’t get an awful lot of protection during an hour of football that saw Norwich well in the game for long periods.
Norwich midfielder Alexander Tettey said: “In all games we have played well in periods but we aren’t able to do it for 90 minutes.
“That’s our problem at the moment. We have to correct it really fast as we have played eight games. At 2-1 down I was thinking that we could get another, but then it gets to 3-1 and we didn’t know what to do.
“We had a good period at 0-0 and even at 2-0 we were playing well. Once it gets to 4-1, it’s very difficult.” – Daily Mail