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 while others in the table have seen games postponed due to Covid-19 cases and Mikel Arteta’s side made light work of rock-bottom Norwich at Carrow Road.
Saka scored in both halves, his double 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 sit six points clear inside the Champions League places.
Arsenal were missing Calum Chambers, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cédric Soares and Takehiro Tomiyasu due to the coronavirus but they were not missed. The tone was set by Saka early on, the 20-year-old collecting a pass from the impressive Martin Ødegaard before slotting past Angus Gunn.
The goalkeeper took the place of Norwich’s regular first-choice Tim Krul, who is among several positive Covid cases in Dean Smith’s squad. This was Gunn’s first Premier League start for Norwich and his first since conceding nine in goal for Southampton in their October 2019 defeat to Leicester and he would be picking the ball out of his net a few more times here.
The home side battled for periods of the first half but – just as they seemed to have Arsenal rattled as Granit Xhaka and Ben White reacted to challenges – the game slipped away. Another fine ball from Ødegaard 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 face a gruelling turnaround before they host Wolves in an early kick-off on Tuesday, 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.