English Premiership

Arsenal down Norwich

2011-11-19 16:43
Robin van Persie (AFP)

Norwich - Robin van Persie scored both goals as Arsenal came from behind to win 2-1 at Norwich City in the Premier League's early kick-off game on Saturday.

The double strike saw the Netherlands international become only the fifth forward to have scored 30 Premier League goals in a calendar year.

He has now scored 31 in 29 games and is closing in on Thierry Henry's Arsenal best of 34 and Alan Shearer's overall record of 36.

No wonder that many regard the Arsenal captain as the best front-man in the world, although he was controversially omitted from a shortlist of 23 players for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award.

Arsenal dominated the early exchanges and created plenty of chances to take the lead.

Van Persie spurned the first after just a few seconds with a mis-hit effort across goal after Theo Walcott had crossed from the right.

Walcott, the England winger, came close himself 10 minutes later with an exhibition of skill that allowed him to get past Marc Tierney in the Norwich box.

The shot that followed had the beating of John Ruddy in the home goal but centre-back Russell Martin was able to get back just in time to stick out a leg and deflect the ball over.

It seemed that it would only be a matter of time before Arsenal did find the net but suddenly Paul Lambert's Canaries were ahead via an extremely avoidable goal.

Per Mertesacker had plenty of time to deal with Tierney's hopeful delivery into the Arsenal penalty area but the Germany international somehow allowed Morison, Norwich's only front-man, to make up ground and take the ball off him.

And as the tall Mertesacker toppled to the ground Wales international Morison, who was a non-league player only two years ago, went on to slot past Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Martin, converted from full-back to centre-back earlier in the season, cleared another effort off the line soon afterwards, this time to deny Gervinho, the Ivory Coast forward.

Yet it was not long before Wenger's side were level thanks to van Persie's ninth goal in his last seven games, which arrived in the 26th minute.

Again Walcott was involved, getting the better of Tierney by pushing the ball past him, and although Gervinho completely missed his attempt to flick in the resulting cross van Persie was in the right place for a close-range finish.

Norwich made a change at the break, bringing on winger Elliott Bennett for David Fox, but it was Arsenal who continued to look more dangerous.

Thomas Vermaelen, Mertesacker's central defensive partner, came charging forward but Gervinho could only head the resulting cross straight at goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Ruddy was required to make a much more difficult stop soon afterwards when van Persie put Gervinho through.

It seemed as though the forward had done enough to get a sight of an empty goal but the former Everton reserve stretched out his massive frame to save.

The ball was finally in the Norwich net once more on the hour mark and van Persie was again the scorer.

Martin lost possession to Alex Song in the centre circle and when the Cameroon midfielder played his captain through Ruddy was beaten by a precise finish over his diving body.

Norwich sent on Grant Holt, their physically imposing forward, in search of a late equaliser but the substitute picked up only a booking for an obvious attempt to con the referee into awarding a penalty.

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