Substitute Welbeck nets Arsenal winner against Norwich
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Arsenal 1 Norwich City 0
Substitute Danny Welbeck grabbed the only goal just three minutes after coming on against Norwich to strengthen Arsenal’s hopes of a place in next season’s Champions League.
Welbeck’s 59th-minute goal was sufficient to lift the Gunners above Manchester City – who face Southampton on Sunday – into third place and just two points behind Tottenham, having played a game more.
The unconvincing victory was not enough to placate a number of Arsenal fans, who raised banners calling for change at the club at prearranged points during the game.
Norwich made the better start, with Martin Olsson finding space on the left and whipping a cross to the back post, where Petr Cech reacted quickly to block Nathan Redmond’s drive with his legs.
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At the other end, Russell Martin threw himself in the way of Olivier Giroud’s attempt as Arsenal – with Alex Iwobi looking lively – probed away at the Canaries defence.
Iwobi created an opening towards the end of the first half as he cut the ball back for Mohamed Elneny, whose effort was deflected behind, with Laurent Koscielny heading over from the corner.
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But the visitors could well have been in front at the break, with two more opportunities falling to Redmond – a volley that Cech beat away before the Norwich midfielder turned Per Mertesacker and drilled just wide.
Mertesacker limped off injured early in the second half, but Arsenal’s next change was an optional – and bewildering one – as Iwobi made way for Welbeck.
Yet the manager’s decision was justified three minutes later as Hector Bellerin’s cross was headed down by Giroud for Welbeck to lash his shot into the net with a slight deflection off Sebastien Bassong.
Welbeck’s strike lifted the tension around the stadium and there were chances for both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, the latter with a sizzling half-volley, to increase the home side’s lead.
With the Gunners suddenly growing in confidence, Giroud found Elneny, who chested the ball down and unleashed a half-volley, only to be foiled by a fine tip-over save from John Ruddy.
Norwich, meanwhile, threw on centre-forward Dieumerci Mbokani – and it needed a sliding challenge from Gabriel to deny him an equaliser after Redmond had outstripped the floundering Aaron Ramsey.
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker (Gabriel 50), Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Elneny; Sanchez (Coquelin 84), Ozil, Iwobi (Welbeck 56); Giroud.