So that is it for the 2013/14 domestic campaign, it feels like only yesterday when Aston Villa turned up at the Emirates in August to spoil our fun. Norwich City were our final league opponents of the season and given that they had nothing but pride to play for, you got to say we were pretty lucky with the roll of the fixture dice.
All eyes were on the team sheet before the kick off, I had absolutely no idea how Arsene was going to play it with the all important FA cup final the main focus.
Lukasz Fabianski was the biggest surprise of the afternoon in the Arsenal goal. Was his inclusion meant as preparation for the FA cup final or was the older Pole given the last PL match because Szczesny was taking the final? We won't know until next weekend.
As has been the case this season though, Lukasz hasn't let the side down at all. His distribution is actually quite a few levels above his younger compatriot and touch wood, he hasn't made an error for sometime now. I'd have no qualms about him playing next week based on his ability.
Per Mertesacker was left at home to rest those rather long legs of his, Thomas Vermaelen was nowhere to be seen. Nursing an injury? or in another office somewhere around the world? who knows.
Bacary Sagna played at centre back alongside Kos. With only three centre backs I thought we might have seen him there more than we did but on the day he did not have a great deal to do from a defensive stand point.
After a slowish start and Norwich's adrenaline beginning to run out we started to dominate the game. Oliver Giroud was having a personal contest with Ruddy in the Norwich goal which he lost. Ruddy made some top draw (cliche alert) saves to deny the big man. I say he lost the battle but after a good move early in the second half, Oliver Giroud lifted up his head on the left and picked out Aaron Ramsey in the middle and *BOSH* what a goal!
Rambo adjusted his feet to meet the flight of the ball and his controlled volley was sheer perfection. All this talk of us needing that other striker to play off Giroud, aren't we getting just that from Ramsey? It doesn't matter where a player starts from or what his position is supposed to be in the minds of many. Just like his burst into that centre forward position at Hull a few weeks ago, just like his poaching strike at home to Stoke, just like his glancing header away to Cardiff etc etc.
Rambo was in the right place once again. A sumptuous finish. It is no surprise that Giroud's form has returned as Ramsey has returned. Giroud is no longer fighting a lonely battle. He now has someone to flick to, to head to, to move off. Our offensive options would have been even stronger with Walcott making those Walcott runs we've all become so accustomed to.
Mesut Özil was keeping everything very simple and rightly pulling out of 50/50s, Podolski was thundering around the pitch once more, proving to Arsene that he is capable of putting a shift in. Since he has increased his work rate he has played the full 90 minutes far more often. Coincidence?
Carl Jenkinson has been trying to score for Arsenal since he arrived. You can see it when he gets forward especially in games that we have already won. If it was important that we did not lose that game then Carl Jenkinson would not have been wondering inside the Norwich penalty when Gibbs darted onto Ozil's pass down the left. Podolski scuffed his shot straight to the feet of Jenkinson who side footed in from close range.
He celebrated as if he had just scored the winner in the cup final, who can blame him. We would have all done the same in that position even in a game that essentially meant nothing. Carl has had a rough ride of late but I am holding onto the fact that when he started the season a few years ago with games under his belt he did not deserve to be dropped for Sagna such was the quality of his performances. Remember when Ramsey wasn't supposedly good enough to wear the Arsenal shirt? Yeah that was only a matter of months ago. Carl has it in him and if he gets a run of games in the team I am sure he will prove it.
There was still time for Arsene to rotate a few players. Wilshere, Diaby and Sanogo replaced Ramsey, Rosicky and Giroud.
The reception for Abou Diaby was breathtaking from our away support who were in wonderful voice throughout the 90 minutes. I'd be surprised if he didn't get a goose bump or two in the process. Diaby played on the flank which I am sure was deigned to keep him away from the robust battles of centre midfield. I'm pretty sure his first touch was to jink his way past two tackles and play the ball back to Jenkinson.
It would be wrong to get carried away with his return, he has been here before only to slide down the snake and start all over again. But like every time he comes back I will cross my fingers that this really is the time he gets over his problems. If he can do that and play his way through the usual rust that players get without regular games under their belts then we will have a top quality player on our books.
So that was that, hopefully all body parts are in working order and the likes of Gibbs has a little bit sharpness ahead of the big one.
With City wrapping up the title 7 points ahead of us I feel a sense of frustration and positivity. The club were trying to buy a striker in the summer but it did not come off, we lost Theo Walcott for a large section of the season, putting aside injuries for now, having those two problems alone corrected over the summer could elevate this team up a level at least. But that is a long way off as we have one more rather large game to play.
'till the next time.
PS - Check out the post Norwich Q&A from three more Gooners on Twitter.