Arsenal 1-0 Norwich City: Gunners finally up and running as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike gives them first win of the season to ease pressure on under fire boss Mikel Arteta
- Arsenal scored their first goal and grabbed their first points of the Premier League season against Norwich
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang broke the deadlock in the 66th minute after bundling in from close range
- The victory lifts Arsenal off the bottom of the table and eases the pressure on manager Mikel Arteta
More satisfactory than convincing but finally Arsenal are off the mark. This wasn’t a vintage – far from it.
But that won’t matter much to Mikel Arteta after what has been a turgid start to the new season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the hero, finishing one the easiest goals of his career to score Arsenal’s first Premier League goal of the season and secure their first points.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal the lead against Norwich City midway through the second half
Aubameyang’s goal was the Gunners’ first of the Premier League season to help lift them off the bottom of the table
Mikel Arteta (front left) will have been relieved to finally see his side win their first match of the Premier League season
Everyone with Arsenal connections can finally breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Bigger tests are ahead, of course. Norwich more than held their own, but they appeared destined for another relegation scrap – Daniel Farke’s team the only top-flight side without a point after four games.
A trip to Burnley next Saturday will provide a sterner test for the Gunners before the north London derby on September 26.
Two more wins and, perhaps, we can say Arsenal have turned corner. But at least this was a start, albeit a rather anxious one by the end.
It was difficult to decide who came through the first half unscathed. Arsenal, as you’d expect, started positively.
Norwich boss Daniel Farke may be looking towards another relegation scrap in the Premier League this season
Arsenal laboured in attack for much of the game as Nicolas Pepe attempts to fire a free-kick over the Norwich defensive wall
MATCH FACTS AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale 6.5; Tomiyasu 7 (Smith Rowe 62, 6.5), Gabriel 7, White 7, Tierney 7; Lokongo 6.5 (Partey 62, 7), Maitland-Niles 7 (Soares 82); Pepe 7, Odegaard 7, Saka 7; Aubameyang 7.
Goal: Aubameyang 66 .
Subs not used: Leno, Lacazette, Tavares, Chambers, Mari, Martinelli.
Manager: Arteta: 7
NORWICH (4-3-3): Krul 6.5; Aarons 7, Omobamidele 6.5, Hanley 6.5, Williams 7.5; Lees-Melou 6.5, Rupp 7 (Idah 80), McLean 6.5; Dowell 6.5 (Cantwell 62, 6.5), Pukki 6.5, Tzolis 6.5 (Rashica 69, 6).
Subs not used: Gunn, Gibson, Gilmour, Cantwell, Kabak, Normann, Rashica, Sorensen, Idah.
Booked: Aarons, Hanley.
Manager: Farke: 6.5
Referee: Michael Oliver – 6.5
Season at a glance
Nicolas Pepe was keeping Brandon Williams occupied down the Norwich left in a head-to-head that would prove one of the most notable battles of the afternoon.
But it wasn’t like Norwich were being overrun or overawed. Perhaps that’s more one an indictment on Arsenal than it is praise of Norwich.
That’s life for the Gunners at the moment. That aura, especially here at the Emirates, has dissipated – teams, even ones as unfancied as the Canaries, aren’t daunted anymore.
Aubameyang failed to execute the finish when Tim Krul was caught in no and land in the 11th minute before squandering an even better opportunity after he was found beautifully by Martin Odegaard.
In all honesty, that was as good as it got for Arsenal during the opening 45 minutes.
Norwich, without testing Aaron Ramsdale on his Premier League debut for Arsenal, weren’t without their chances.
Aaron Ramsdale was making his Premier League debut for Arsenal in goal following his summer signing from Sheffield United
Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu was making his debut for the Gunners before departing just after the hour mark
Kenny McLean wasted a decent aerial opportunity, while Teemu Pukki saw a dangerous effort blocked by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, making his first start of the season following heart-to-heart talks with Arteta, on the stroke of half-time.
For the time being, the Arsenal fans stayed loyal, applauding and cajoling the team off at half-time.
It’s not always like that, of course. The last time they played here, Arsenal’s players were booed off twice in a weak loss to Chelsea.
But there was enough to like about this Arsenal performance to encourage the Emirates faithful.
Aubameyang was looking threatening, Odegaard looks capable of unpicking Norwich’s defence while debutant Takehiro Tomiyasu was showing plenty of promise following his arrival from Bologna on transfer deadline day.
You knew, however, the atmosphere would switch if Norwich made headway.
Teemu Pukki reacts, with Norwich unable to make the most of their late pressure on the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium
Kenny McLean attempts to lead team-mate Pukki away from match official Michael Oliver during his side’s fourth straight loss
Arsenal supporters were left relieved after finally seeing their team get off the mark in the Premier League this season
Had Williams, who was having a fine game, not produced a brilliant goal-saving block to deny Pepe at the back post in the 57th minute then the rest of the afternoon would have been far more relaxed for Arsenal.
Indeed, the natives were becoming increasingly restless. Arteta sent for the cavalry: Thomas Partey was introduced for his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury while Emile Smith Rowe was also sent on in the 62nd minute.
And within four minutes Arsenal were ahead. The move started with Partey, who fired a sharp pass forward into Bukayo Saka, who fed Pepe who was cutting in from the right.
The Ivorian’s initial shot was saved onto the post by Krul before Pepe’s bundled effort from the rebound also hit the upright.
Eventually, though the ball broke to Aubameyang, who owed home from a yard as the Emirates erupted.
Arsenal were made to sweat through an VAR check, Norwich adamant Aubameyang was in an offside position. But the goal stood and the Gunners’ season – finally – had lift off.
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