Arsenal four. Norwich nil. With all our hand-wringing about this and bellyaching about that, we can forget how much fun a match of football can be. The Gunners’ thrashing of the relegation-bound Canaries was a fantastic reminder of that. It was fun.
The match wasn’t full of sparkling, technical football. The outcome wasn’t ever really in doubt. We’ll probably forget about the win pretty quickly. Who cares. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Arsenal bang home four goals. For 90 minutes, I wasn’t concerned with the state of the roster, the club finances, what the future might hold. None of that mattered. I watched Arsenal beat the pants off Norwich (except for a short spell to start the second half), and I loved it.
Here is a list of things I enjoyed:
- Dani Ceballos bossing the first half: he had his best performance in an Arsenal shirt this season. He seemed to always be on the ball, driving it forward, and hitting linebreaking passes. If he could put in performances like that all the time, I’d be more than happy to have him at the club permanently.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Just him, generally. He scored another brace for Arsenal and became the fastest to 50 goals at the club. Both of his tallies today were opportunistic, but you don’t score those types of goals if you don’t take chances and run down balls hopefully. After the match, Mikel Arteta said he is remaining positive that they can sign the striker to a new contract.
- Granit Xhaka scoring. The man has been through a lot this season. He looked to have a foot out the door after the incident with the fans at the Emirates this season. He was stripped of the captaincy. He has since worked his way back into the squad, has become an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s setup, and put the armband back on. It’s a shame the fans weren’t there for his first Premier League goal of the season — everybody deserved that redemption and reconciliation moment.
- Emi Martinez making several quality saves. I continue to be impressed by the Arsenal backup keeper. He’s made all the big saves he’s had to make. After these performances (and had Bernd Leno’s injury been more serious), I would have been completely okay heading into next season with him as the number one keeper.
- Kieran Tierney having a solid game. He didn’t standout as much as he did in his other Project Restart appearances, but he didn’t have to. He’s a solid player. Arsenal look to have gotten a great deal buying him for €25M.
- Cedric Soares scoring on his Arsenal debut. More like Cedric Scoares, right? Mikel Arteta spoke about his quality on the ball and his final third delivery before the match, and he lived up to the billing. He’ll push Hector Bellerin for time and/or be a well-above average backup if he plays like he did in his cameo today.
- [Added because I forgot] The Arsenal defense keeping a clean sheet. That’s 6 in 14 under Mikel Arteta. The defense is still a work-in-progress, but things are moving in the correct direction on the area of the club that needed the most work.
If you couldn’t tell, Arsenal have me in a good mood. I woke up to the news that Bukayo Saka had signed a contract extension. The Gunners cruised to a win. Yeah, it’s just Norwich, but so what? I’m going to bask in this one for the rest of the day. The other, not as fun things, can wait for tomorrow.