Robin van Persie took his 2011 Premier League goals tally to 31 with a match-winning brace at Norwich to earn Arsenal a 10th win in 12 matches.

The Dutchman, in prolific recent form, was again the difference to reward a vibrant attacking Gunners display.

He grabbed his first with a tap-in from Theo Walcott's cross and clipped in a superb second from Alex Song's pass.

Steve Morison had pounced on an error by Per Mertesacker to give the hosts an early lead but they could not hold out.

It looked for a while as if the Canaries might, however, thanks partly to a stoic defensive display and partly due to the Gunners' profligacy.

Time and again in the opening hour of the match Arsenal cut through the Norwich team with swift and accurate passing and, most notably, the pace of Walcott on the right, but time and again the Gunners failed to convert their chances.

Wenger praises 'exceptional' Van Persie

In the first quarter of an hour alone, Arsenal could have been two or three goals ahead, Gervinho having a shot blocked, Van Persie scuffing wide when well placed and then Walcott denied a goal by a simply stunning goalline clearance by Russell Martin.

And the visitors were made to pay for their failings in front of goal when Norwich took the lead completely against the run of play, Morison stealing into the box when Mertesacker dallied unnecessarily on his clearance and sliding into the corner.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger complained of a foul on his German centre-half, but his appeals were unsuccessful, quite rightly.

The Gunners continued to pile forward despite the goal, however, and unbelievably it took two more goalline clearances from Martin - the first from Van Persie's header and then when keeper John Ruddy could only half-stop Gervinho's effort one-on-one - to keep Norwich ahead.

DID YOU KNOW?

Robin van Persie joins an elite group of players to have scored more than 30 Premier League goals in a calendar year, alongside Alan Shearer (36) in 1995 and Thierry Henry (34) in 2004

Arsenal finally broke through on 26 minutes, however, the effervescent Walcott flying past Marc Tierney and crossing for Van Persie to tap in from six yards out.

With Aaron Ramsey getting forward at every opportunity and Van Persie virtually unplayable up front, the Gunners continued to threaten thereafter.

Gervinho was the most frequent beneficiary of some fine Arsenal build-up play, but the Ivorian was unable to convert a host of chances, most notably after being put through on goal by a wonderful Van Persie pass, allowing Ruddy to save despite having apparently rounded the Norwich keeper.

Van Persie was not nearly as wasteful, though, and he grabbed what turned out to be the winner on the hour mark.

Martin, so solid throughout, made a rare - and costly - mistake in losing possession on the halfway mark and Song pounced to release Van Persie, who strode clear before chipping a delightful finish into the corner.

Norwich manager Paul Lambert

It was the Dutchman's 10th goal in his last five games and was to ensure a dominant Arsenal performance would not go unrewarded.

Norwich continued to battle gamely and they might even have snatched a point had Anthony Pilkington not scuffed Elliott Bennett's whipped cross six yards out with the goal gaping on 66 minutes.

But as it was, Arsenal saw out their victory relatively comfortably, going closest to extending their lead late on when Walcott's rising drive crashed back off the outside of the post.

Norwich boss Paul Lambert: "Arsenal are a very good side and deserved to win on the day. But it's another learning curve for us as we try to aspire to that level.

"We were always in the game today which is pleasing.

"We got off to a good start, Steve's goal lifted the crowd but Arsenal came back strongly and you can see they are a very good side."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "Robin [van Persie] is exceptional but we all know within the club that he's an exceptional player. Sometimes, what was in the way was the fact he was injured. Since he plays, he shows just how good he is.

"[As a team] we have shown our mental strength again today.

"It's down to team attitude and confidence, as well. There is a good attitude and spirit in the squad."

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (5)

Norwich

  • 01 Ruddy
  • 02 R Martin
  • 20 Barnett
  • 23 Tierney Booked
  • 25 Naughton
  • 04 Johnson
  • 07 Crofts
  • 12 Pilkington (Jackson - 82' )
  • 14 Hoolahan (Holt - 68' Booked )
  • 15 Fox (Bennett - 46' Booked )
  • 05 Morison

Substitutes

  • 13 Rudd
  • 03 Drury
  • 11 Surman
  • 17 Bennett
  • 09 Holt
  • 10 Jackson
  • 21 Wilbraham

Arsenal

  • 13 Szczesny
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 05 Vermaelen
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 11 Santos
  • 08 Arteta
  • 14 Walcott (Djourou - 90' )
  • 16 Ramsey
  • 17 Song
  • 10 Van Persie
  • 27 Gervinho (Benayoun - 77' )

Substitutes

  • 21 Fabianski
  • 20 Djourou
  • 07 Rosicky
  • 23 Arshavin
  • 30 Benayoun
  • 39 Coquelin
  • 29 Chamakh
Ref: Dowd
Att: 26,801

Match Stats

Shots

7 20

On target

4 14

Corners

1 6

Fouls

11 9

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:35 Full time

Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.

90:00 +2:48

Kyle Naughton challenges Mikel Arteta unfairly and gives away a free kick. Mikel Arteta takes the free kick.

90:00 +1:14

Free kick crossed by Bradley Johnson, Wojciech Szczesny makes a comfortable save.

90:00 +1:14 Substitution

Substitution Johan Djourou joins the action as a substitute, replacing Theo Walcott.

90:00 +1:14

Unfair challenge on Grant Holt by Clarindo Andre Santos results in a free kick.

89:00

Effort on goal by Simeon Jackson from long range goes over the bar.

88:13

Elliott Bennett crosses the ball, clearance by Clarindo Andre Santos.

87:34

Theo Walcott has an effort at goal from just inside the box that bounces off the post.

85:55

Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.

85:55 Booking

Booking Grant Holt is given a yellow card.

85:24

Clarindo Andre Santos challenges Kyle Naughton unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kyle Naughton restarts play with the free kick.

82:26

Simeon Jackson sends in a cross, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Laurent Koscielny by Elliott Bennett. Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.

81:24 Substitution

Substitution Simeon Jackson joins the action as a substitute, replacing Anthony Pilkington.

81:24

Centre by Yossi Benayoun, clearance by Leon Barnett.

80:07

Direct free kick taken by Laurent Koscielny.

80:07 Booking

Booking Booking for Marc Tierney for unsporting behaviour.

80:04

Foul by Marc Tierney on Theo Walcott, free kick awarded.

76:58 Substitution

Substitution Yossi Benayoun comes on in place of Yao Gervinho.

76:33

Yao Gervinho takes a shot. Save by John Ruddy.

75:38

Bradley Johnson produces a cross, clearance made by Laurent Koscielny. Andrew Crofts takes a shot. Blocked by Thomas Vermaelen. Mikel Arteta takes a shot. Save by John Ruddy.

74:57

Alex Song gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Andrew Crofts. Russell Martin restarts play with the free kick.

74:03

Foul by Grant Holt on Per Mertesacker, free kick awarded. Per Mertesacker restarts play with the free kick.

73:04

The ball is swung over by Marc Tierney, Mikel Arteta makes a clearance.

72:38

Steve Morison crosses the ball, clearance made by Thomas Vermaelen.

71:38

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Andrew Crofts by Aaron Ramsey. Free kick taken by John Ruddy.

69:42

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Grant Holt by Per Mertesacker. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Anthony Pilkington from left channel, Thomas Vermaelen manages to make a clearance.

69:12

Steve Morison produces a cross, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.

67:38

Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Mikel Arteta, blocked by Yao Gervinho.

67:38 Substitution

Substitution Grant Holt comes on in place of Wesley Hoolahan.

67:38

Robin van Persie fouled by Andrew Crofts, the ref awards a free kick.

67:13

Theo Walcott takes a shot. Save made by John Ruddy.

65:49

Aaron Ramsey takes the free kick.

65:49 Booking

Booking Elliott Bennett goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.

65:46

Free kick awarded for a foul by Elliott Bennett on Yao Gervinho.

64:43

A cross is delivered by Elliott Bennett, Close range shot by Anthony Pilkington misses to the left of the target.

63:12

The official flags Theo Walcott offside. Free kick taken by Russell Martin.

62:26

Centre by Elliott Bennett, save by Wojciech Szczesny.

58:56

Assist on the goal came from Alex Song.

58:56 Goal scored

Goal! - Robin van Persie - Norwich 1 - 2 Arsenal Robin van Persie finds the net with a goal from inside the area low into the middle of the goal. Norwich 1-2 Arsenal.

57:29

Mikel Arteta challenges Marc Tierney unfairly and gives away a free kick. Anthony Pilkington takes the free kick.

56:29

Anthony Pilkington sends in a cross, clearance by Per Mertesacker.

56:08

Theo Walcott delivers the ball, save by John Ruddy.

54:43

Yao Gervinho takes a shot. John Ruddy makes a brilliant save.

54:26

Steve Morison takes a shot. Blocked by Per Mertesacker.

53:42

Theo Walcott produces a cross, Aaron Ramsey produces a right-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

50:07

Thomas Vermaelen challenges Wesley Hoolahan unfairly and gives away a free kick. Anthony Pilkington produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.

49:30

Thomas Vermaelen sends in a cross, Yao Gervinho takes a shot. Save by John Ruddy.

48:46

Robin van Persie is caught offside. John Ruddy restarts play with the free kick.

47:21

Bradley Johnson delivers the ball, save by Wojciech Szczesny.

46:58

Elliott Bennett sends in a cross.

46:04

Mikel Arteta gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Andrew Crofts. Direct free kick taken by Marc Tierney.

45:01

The second half has started.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution Elliott Bennett is brought on as a substitute for David Fox.

45:00 +1:12 Half time

Half Time The first half comes to an end.

45:00 +0:59

A cross is delivered by Steve Morison, save by Wojciech Szczesny.

44:51

Andrew Crofts challenges Clarindo Andre Santos unfairly and gives away a free kick. Clarindo Andre Santos takes the free kick.

41:52

Steve Morison gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Per Mertesacker. Per Mertesacker restarts play with the free kick.

41:19

Handball decision goes against Laurent Koscielny. John Ruddy takes the free kick.

40:56

Aaron Ramsey delivers the ball, clearance by Leon Barnett.

39:31

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Steve Morison.

37:04

Corner from the left by-line taken by Mikel Arteta, save by John Ruddy.

36:53

Yao Gervinho takes a shot. Blocked by Leon Barnett.

33:48

Bradley Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Aaron Ramsey. Aaron Ramsey restarts play with the free kick.

33:30

The offside flag is raised against Leon Barnett. Indirect free kick taken by Per Mertesacker.

32:44

Outswinging corner taken by David Fox from the right by-line, clearance made by Thomas Vermaelen.

32:37

The ball is sent over by Kyle Naughton, Clarindo Andre Santos gets a block in.

26:00

The assist for the goal came from Theo Walcott.

26:00 Goal scored

Goal! - Robin van Persie - Norwich 1 - 1 Arsenal Robin van Persie scores a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Norwich 1-1 Arsenal.

25:58

Centre by Theo Walcott,

24:51

Clarindo Andre Santos sends in a cross, blocked by Leon Barnett.

24:13

Andrew Crofts has an effort at goal and missed to the left of the net.

23:16

Yao Gervinho takes a shot. John Ruddy makes a save.

22:17

The ball is crossed by Clarindo Andre Santos, Robin van Persie takes a shot. Clearance made by Russell Martin.

20:34

Clarindo Andre Santos takes a shot. John Ruddy makes a save.

19:16

Inswinging corner taken by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Russell Martin.

18:47

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, clearance made by Bradley Johnson.

18:41

Theo Walcott sends in a cross, Marc Tierney makes a clearance.

18:07

Robin van Persie produces a left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

17:51

Mikel Arteta takes a shot. Blocked by Russell Martin.

17:17

The ball is sent over by Yao Gervinho, John Ruddy makes a save.

15:57

The assist for the goal came from Marc Tierney.

15:57 Goal scored

Goal! - Steve Morison - Norwich 1 - 0 Arsenal Steve Morison gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Norwich 1-0 Arsenal.

14:26

Bradley Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Mikel Arteta. Mikel Arteta crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, clearance made by Andrew Crofts.

12:23

Robin van Persie is ruled offside. John Ruddy takes the free kick.

11:09

Mikel Arteta takes the inswinging corner, Russell Martin makes a clearance.

10:52

Theo Walcott takes a shot. Clearance by Russell Martin.

10:25

The ball is delivered by Theo Walcott, Russell Martin makes a clearance.

8:37

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Yao Gervinho by Leon Barnett. Clarindo Andre Santos takes the direct free kick.

7:34

Centre by Marc Tierney, Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.

5:32

Robin van Persie has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the target.

2:05

Corner taken by Robin van Persie.

1:45

Yao Gervinho sends in a cross, Theo Walcott takes a shot. Blocked by Leon Barnett.

0:45

Theo Walcott delivers the ball, Effort from inside the area by Robin van Persie misses to the left of the target.

0:23

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kyle Naughton by Robin van Persie. Free kick taken by Leon Barnett.

0:00

The game begins.

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