Premier League

Arsenal 1 Norwich 0: Aubameyang scores lucky goal to finally earn a win for Gunners as they climb out of drop zone

The home fans rediscovered their sense of humour, following the goal up with a chorus of “We are staying up”.

However, the Arsenal captain broke his and his team’s ducks – as well as Norwich’s – with a disputed goal from a yard out to relieve Mikel Arteta’s early season burden.

The protests were led by Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul. He’d deflected a Nicolas Pepe shot against the post, and he wasn’t the only one who thought Aubameyang was offside when Pepe’s follow-up struck the other upright.

However, Arsenal’s first goal of the season stood, and it was enough for them to win this relegation six-pointer.

Following the goal, the home crowd found their sense of fun, chanting “We are staying up.”

They even revived the “1-0 to Arsenal” shout, a throwback to happier times.

But, until then, it appeared that the only thing Crystal Palace fans would have to cheer about was former midfield general Patrick Vieira leading the Eagles to a lunchtime victory over Spurs.

Problems on the trains transporting supporters down from East Anglia and beyond could not account for all of the vacant seats that littered the stands.

The groans from the seats behind Arteta were already audible half an hour into the game.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made seven changes from the lineup that was humiliated by Manchester City, with Granit Xhaka’s suspension being the only one he had to make.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles was brought in from the cold to start in midfield.

For the first 45 minutes, Aaron Ramsdale, who was making his league debut in goal, was virtually untroubled.

Takehiro Tomiyasu, a Japan international, made his debut at right-back and created excitement at both ends of the first half, most notably with a volley narrowly over the bar.

However, despite a strong start, the crowd’s expectations for a dominant, confident performance were not met.

The Gunners finally scored a goal and won the game.

For the first 20 minutes, Arsenal owned the most of the ball and the majority of the territory. Aubameyang, on the other hand, was unable to convert either of the opportunities that came his way.

After Krul changed his mind about coming to cut out a long ball, the Gabone striker fired wide. Then Martin Odegaard found Aubameyang with a fantastic pass, but his lobbed finish was poor, and the Norwich goalkeeper deflected it with his arm.

The plague of Mesut Ozil’s £350,000-per-week contract, which devastated his career, appeared to be in full swing.

When the visitors did get the ball into the opposition half, Kenny McLean should have done better than heading a Max Aarons cross wide.

Norwich found themselves able to play 15 or 20 yards further up the pitch as the half progressed, and they deserved to go in level. But not enough to avoid a fourth loss in four games.

Pepe was denied by a great block by Brandon Williams 10 minutes into the second half, but the Ivory Coast winger played a key role in the victory just as the home crowd threatened to riot.

The ball eventually made its way to Aubameyang thanks to his willingness to attempt again following Krul’s initial save.

The goal might have been called out for offside in the days before VAR.

Some others believed that technology should have made that decision as well. But it didn’t happen.

Krul came up with two more crucial saves, this time against Aubameyang and substitute Emile Smith Rowe.

So, if the goal was a case of bad luck for Norwich, the loss was not.

They didn’t do enough to instill doubt in the home team’s and supporters’ minds. For the majority of the game, they were a non-threatening attacking threat, leaving them exposed to the kind of disaster that befell them.

They had two shots blocked in the final seconds, but they can’t complain too much because they’re still useless.

If they don’t start winning – or at least not losing – soon, their return to the Premier League will feel like that.

It’s up to Aubameyang, Arteta, and Arsenal to make sure they don’t take two steps back at Burnley next weekend following this modest move ahead.

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