Lowell Hornby went to Carrow Road to watch Arsenal rout Norwich City. Here's his take on our rip-roaring Gunners as Manchester City loom on New Years Day at the Emirates.
Well that was very very pleasant.
I’d say my first stress free away experience. Perfect distance, perfect result, perfect seats, and the perfect performance.
What a difference a few weeks can make!
Having lost back to back in Manchester and Liverpool, I didn’t (nor did anyone else) think that we’d be sat fourth with a goal difference of POSITIVE 9!!!
How did that happen? Still doesn’t feel like it has. Life without Aubameyang is bliss. 19 goals in 5 straight victories since he’s been stripped of the captaincy.
I think we all owe apologies to everyone to be honest.
To Ramsdale, to Edu, to Arteta...
This is a really good team they are building - it may even be already built. A young core that have talent beyond their years, and who knows what they may look like in three years having grown together.
A different away crowd for me this time.
With Layth’s Hitchin pick up spot unreachable given the Boxing Day lack of trains, I sourced some tickets for some local friends (crucially who could drive) and we headed up from Camden this time.
The drive was actually very enjoyable. Less full on motorway than many of the North West trips, our route was scenic and peaceful.
No traffic, and the drive wasn’t nearly as much of a slog as those aforementioned trips - being a passenger/DJ is more tiring than you could imagine.
The weather was again dreadful, but I’m starting to look at the weather as less of a foreshadowing element after our victory in Leeds.
We did predictions in the car, as any sane football fan would. Although we suggested doing the predictions with and without Tomiyasu - who’d have thought we would even consider that when we signed him on deadline day, I thought “no one [knew] whether he was a CB or a RB??
Anyway, Andrew went for 2-1, Aneeq went for 3-1, Misha for 1-1, and me for 6-0. I know my team clearly.
Following them up and down the country has made my predictions more accurate I think - or we are just much better now so maybe my optimism has just been caught up by results. Anyway, no Tomi (positive for Covid). Our other two RBs were also positive (Cedric and Maitland Niles). Were the particles lingering in that area of the pitch? Ben White’s much hyped versatility was consequently tested, as he started on the right-hand side of defence with Rob Holding slotting in at CB.
We parked in a shopping parking lot, as confused as some other Arsenal fans there as to the legitimacy of our credentials for parking there. Its emptiness was not promising (perversely), but we risked it.
Carrow Road is a lovely ground. I feel like lovely is the only word to describe it, it’s sweet. It’s not a Premier League ground though. The Morrisons next to it also eclipses it for size so I think that tells you all you need to know. Perfectly nice though.
The home atmosphere was dead. The away end, however, was buoyant with its usual vibrancy and noise - I was very thankful to be back in amongst it.
The Arsenal responded on the pitch to match this vibrancy. Intensity from the start, as was the case against Leeds, and very quickly these efforts were rewarded. Martinelli pressed, Tierney nipped in and Laca found Ø in space. Ø to Saka, who was allowed in onto his left foot and curled into the bottom corner.
Six minutes in, 1-0 up and The Arsenal were firing again. The game then slowed a little bit. We had chances, but failed to convert as the game became more bitty.
A traditional Xhaka eruption resulted in the game becoming a lot more fiery. This suited Arsenal, and as the challenges flew in from the frustrated Yellows, The Gunners played their way around them. Ø played a beautiful pass through to Tierney, who took a touch then fired in off the post to make it 2-0 just before HT.
I’m a huge fan of his very angry celebrations, very Ketsbaia esque. The rest of the travelling fans seemed to like it too - a captain in the making?
The second half was very satisfying. Norwich, to be honest, were utterly abject. Good teams often beat bad teams heavily, but this is something that Arsenal haven’t done nearly enough for quite some time. The increase in flat track bullying is underrated, and a huge signpost of our now more obvious progression.
They again provided no threat in the second half, but again the Young Guns played some fantastic football. Saka capped his wonderful display with a fantastic second as he again cut inside and fired into the bottom corner.
The Saka of the last few weeks is the real Saka, and he’s starting to look like he’s finally recovered from his heartbreak in the summer for England. Smith Rowe then came on for his inevitable endgame contribution (s).
He first played a fantastic ball through to Laca, who was brought down and finished from the resulting spot kick. Our first converted penalty of the season! ESR then also capitalised on a deflected shot from Pepe and tapped home to make it 5-0.
What a performance, and (with the Wolves game called off) it is the perfect way to cap off 2021.
It’s been a difficult year, with a lot of ups and to be honest far toomany downs for my sanity.
We can finally see what Mikel wants to build though.
I think every Arsenal fan is now uninamously behind him and the team.
We may be a while off winning the league, but we’re having fun.
Arteta is writing a story that every Arsenal fan wants to be a part of. Many of these players may become legends right in front of our eyes, and that, if nothing else, is really exciting. Martinelli, Saka, Ø, ESR, Gabriel, Ramsdale, Tomiyasu (?), Ben White (?), and Tierney. All under 24 and all looking like they may become even better than they already are.
To think that all of them will spend the next five or so years growing together is also one that must fear those with a more ageing squad (e.g Liverpool).
It’s a really exciting time to be an Arsenal fan, an excitement that I haven’t really felt in my supporting lifetime. I’ve been excited about players, or maybe being close to the top, but I’ve never been this excited about a squad - or moreover, a manager.
Man City await, at potentially the most disgusting kick off time I’ve ever known at 1230pm on New Years Day.
The current City team are unbelievable and I expect nothing but an away victory, but I would very much like to avoid a drubbing.
Until then, Gunners.