Bukayo Saka at the double as five-star Arsenal thrash Norwich

Gunners claim back to back away league wins for the first time this season

Mark Mann-Bryans
Sunday 26 December 2021 19:06
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<p>After a goal against Leeds last week, Bukayo Saka showed he’s a man in form </p>

After a goal against Leeds last week, Bukayo Saka showed he’s a man in form

Bukayo Saka scored twice as Arsenal coasted to a 5-0 Boxing Day victory at Norwich to strengthen their hopes of a top-four Premier League finish.

The Gunners have been able to fulfil all of their fixtures of late as others in the table see games postponed due to Covid cases and Mikel Arteta’s side made light work of rock-bottom Norwich at Carrow Road.

Saka scored in both halves, his brace coming either side of a rare Kieran Tierney strike, with Alexandre Lacazette winning and converting a late penalty and Emile Smith Rowe striking off the bench as Arsenal outclassed the Canaries, who rarely threatened.

The result means Arsenal can toast back to back away league wins for the first time this season and enjoy their leftover turkey sitting six points clear inside the Champions League places.

Saka set the tone early on, collecting a pass from the impressive Martin Odegaard before slotting past Angus Gunn – the goalkeeper in for regular first-choice Tim Krul, one of a number of positive Covid cases in Dean Smith’s squad.

Arsenal were without Calum Chambers, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cedric Soares and Takehiro Tomiyasu due to Covid, but they were not exactly missed.

This was Gunn’s first Premier League start for Norwich and his first since conceding nine when in goal for Southampton in their defeat to Leicester and he would be picking the ball out of his net a few more times here.

To their credit, Norwich battled for periods of the first half but – just as they seemed to have Arsenal rattled when Granit Xhaka and Ben White reacted to challenges – the game slipped away.

Mikel Arteta and his players applaud the travelling Arsenal fans

Another fine ball from Odegaard allowed Tierney to break into the box and fire in low across Gunn for his fourth goal for the club as half-time approached.

There never looked like being an inspired second-half comeback for Norwich, who remain bottom on 10 points.

Saka’s second goal in the 67th minute was a fine finish as the England winger cut inside Brandon Williams before striking from the edge of the box to wrap up the win.

Arteta, whose side host Wolves in less than 48 hours, moved to his bench to freshen things up but it did not stop a late flurry from the visitors.

Lacazette was bundled over in the box by Ozan Kabak six minutes from time and picked himself up to tuck away the resulting penalty before Smith Rowe scored off the bench for the second league outing in succession.

The win leaves Arsenal looking up but Norwich, who mustered just two shots on target, were jeered off at full-time following another loss.

Norwich head coach Dean Smith said it “was just as flat a performance as we have had and it was littered with unforced errors”.

“It was very difficult to be honest, I didn’t see that coming,” he said. “The last game (a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa) first half was poor but two games ago we were going toe-to-toe with Man United and had fans out of their seats.

“We’ve got to be better than that and we are better than that, unfortunately the standards have dropped off massively from the Manchester United game, there are reasons for that but I’m not here to make excuses.”

Additional reporting by PA

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