Arsenal claimed a third successive win across all competitions to move at least temporarily up into seventh in , beating Norwich 2-0 in their first match back at the Emirates since the Premier League’s restart.
Off the back of wins over Southampton and Sheffield United, the Gunners – lining up in a 3-4-3 formation – started strong and found themselves once again profitting from a goalkeeping error, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finishing into an empty net after Tim Krul’s mistake.
That saw the 31-year-old frontman net his 21st goal of the season, his 18th in the league, and become the fastest Arsenal player ever to 50 Premier League goals.
This was the Gabon international’s 79th appearance in England’s top flight, having taken four less than club legend and all-time top scorer Thierry Henry to reach a half-century.
Aubameyang also played a role in Granit Xhaka’s strike with a cute flick into the Swiss’ path to thump an effort beneath Krul before half-time.
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Norwich improved after the break once Daniel Farke made three substitutions during the interval but despite showing more threat, Aubameyang killed the game with 25 minutes to go, side-footing past Krul after Josip Drmic inadvertently gave the ball away to move on to 19 in the league – joint level with Leicester’s Jamie Vardy in the fight for the Golden Boot.
The win was capped off by Cedric Soares’ 25-yard strike into the bottom corner – just minutes after coming on to make his first appearance for the north London outfit.
But how did the Gunners perform individually? Express Sport rates and slates Mikel Arteta’s men after a convincing home victory.
Arsenal ratings vs Norwich – Premier League
Emiliano Martinez – 7
Excellent save to deny Kenny McLean at a free-kick before the break and another alert stop to deny Adam Idah shortly after the interval. Back-to-back Premier League clean sheets for the Argentine.
Shkodran Mustafi – 5
A sloppy display from the German. Untested defensively but often guilty of dithering in possession. Looked like he needed a rest and Arteta seemingly agreed, taking him off at half-time.
David Luiz – 6
Better than his last Premier League performance. Excellent cross-field ball in the build-up to the second goal and continually seen commanding his fellow defenders. Tested Krul with a long-range knuckleball free-kick in the first half. But still had his moments defensively when Norwich improved.
Sead Kolasinac – 6
Decent defensively but rarely very proactive on the ball. Constantly looked inside to David Luiz rather than out wide left to Tierney. Looks better suited to a centre-back role, at least in a back three, though.
Hector Bellerin – 6
Excellent movement in bursting beyond the back-line, which helped give Ceballos more options, but inconsistent end product. Poor cross after breaking into the box early on and another occasion in which he made the by-line but lost his footing.
Granit Xhaka – 7
Strong partnership with Ceballos and a fine low finish beyond Krul to double Arsenal’s lead in the first half. Brings more control to the midfield – although the hosts found themselves chasing the ball in the 20 minutes
Dani Ceballos – 8
Ran the show with a brilliant display in the first half. Great early defence-splitting ball to Bellerin and plenty more eye-catching passes and crosses, including one excellent delivery that Lacazette should’ve done better with. His impact waned in the second half as Norwich improved and enjoyed more of the ball, but he never stopped running.
Kieran Tierney – 8
Advanced attacking role saw him constantly involved down the left in the first half. A constant problem for Norwich’s defence with his deliveries from out wide of a very high standard. Got forward less often after the break but was just as impressive defensively, putting himself in the right position time again and always tracking his man. Keep him fit and the Scot looks like he’ll be a revelation for the Londoners.
Reiss Nelson – 6
Underwhelming display despite creating a few first-half chances, including one for Lacazette. Good pressing but a bit too flat up against his marker on the ball. Understandably subbed off on the hour mark.
Alexandre Lacazette – 5
Wasted an excellent headed opportunity from Ceballos’ cross and not as sharp as Aubameyang, but still some bright moments where he linked up with his strike partner. But his replacement Nketiah looked to offer more than him after his introduction.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 9
Lively early on, forcing a good save from Krul and then meeting Nelson’s cross with a header. Opened the scoring by capitalising on a poor goalkeeping error and helped set up Xhaka’s effort with a clever outside-of-the-boot flick. Clinical with his second goal, slotting beyond Krul. The kind of performance that reminds you why Arsenal cannot afford to lose him.
Rob Holding (on for Mustafi, min 45) – 6
Tested far more than Mustafi but did well and helped keep a clean sheet.
Joe Willock (on for Nelson, min 58) – 6
Drilled one over the bar after winning back possession inside the box and later curled just wide of the post.
Eddie Nketiah (on for Lacazette, min 76) – 7
Clever feet almost saw him notch an assist for Willock late on. An impressive 15-minute cameo.
Cedric Soares (on for Bellerin, min 76) – 7
A long-awaited debut at right-back – and a brilliant long-range goal to cap it off.
Nicolas Pepe (on for Aubameyang, min 82) – N/A
Didn’t see too much of the ball late on, bar curling a free-kick well over. Wasn’t on for long, to be fair.
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