Arsenal vs. Norwich City: Final score 4-1, Arsenal remain top

Paul Gilham

Arsenal will end the weekend atop the Premier League with a nervy-but-brilliant win against Norwich City. The Canaries put up more of a fight than anyone might have anticipated, but the hosts responded to adversity by coming up with some fantastic football, scoring a pair of incredible goals in claiming a 4-1 victory.

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The first half didn't give much indication that we were in for a thriller at the Emirates. Arsenal were well on top, pushing the visitors deep into their own half. Ruddy did well to keep shots from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud out, but he could have done nothing about the opener, which was the result of some quite ludicrous interchange between Giroud and Jack Wilshere -- the pair exchange acrobatic flicks before the latter buried his first-time finish for a 1-0 Gunners lead.

But that wasn't the whole story, and for much of the second half it was an open question whether or not Arsenal would be able to hold onto the lead. A couple of half-chances had fallen Norwich's way before the break -- the most notable resulting in Wojciech Szczesny saving from Leroy Fer -- but after the interval they began to attack in earnest, putting serious pressure on the hosts.

It looked as though all of that pressure would come to naught when the Canaries were caught on the counterattack, with Ozil steaming up the pitch to head in Giroud's cross, but Norwich didn't let the two-goal deficit dampen their spirits, and were soon back in the match thanks to Jonathan Howson, who picked up a half-clearance at the edge of the box and fired in a perfect shot to bring the score back to 2-1.

Despite being pegged back, Arsenal were still looking good bets to win, but the game was nowhere near safe. It fell upon Aaron Ramsey to kill off the match, and he did so in spectacular fashion in the 83rd minute. The substitute dribbled through what felt like half the Norwich side before freezing time (it's entirely possible he's a sorcerer), lining up his shot and slotting past Ruddy.

The points were finally safe, and Ozil added further gloss to the scoreline with a close-range finish after Wilshere had knocked down a cross. Beating Norwich at home isn't particularly impressive, but Arsenal won't care -- they're in first place for at least another week.

Arsenal starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna; Mathieu Flamini (Aaron Ramsey 37'), Mikel Arteta; Santi Cazorla (Tomas Rosicky 59'), Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil; Olivier Giroud.

Goals: Wilshere 18', Ozil 58' 88', Ramsey 83'.

Norwich City starting lineup (4-5-1):
John Ruddy; Martin Olsson, Sebastien Bassong, Michael Turner, Russell Martin; Alexander Tettey; Anthony Pilkington, Leroy Fer, Johnathan Howson, Robert Snodgrass; Gary Hooper.

Goals: Howson 70'.

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