Özil scores twice to keep Arsenal flying
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Arsenal's German midfielder Mesut Özil (R) celebrates after scoring against Norwich during the English Premier League football match against Norwich at the Emirates Stadium in London, on Oct. 19. AFP photoMesut Özil scored twice to keep Arsenal top of the Premier League table with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on Oct. 19.
Jack Wilshere teed up the win with his opener, but another man of the moment, Aaron Ramsey, made sure that his midfield colleagues did not steal all the headlines as he carried on his red-hot form with another goal.
Transformed from the opening day of the season, when they lost 3-1 at home to Aston Villa, the Gunners have remained unbeaten since.
Wilshere scored his second goal in as many games when he struck in the first half and Özil got on the goal trail with a second-half header.
At times Norwich had rare skirmishes in the Arsenal half and went close through Robert Snodgrass and Lee Martin.
Jonny Howson eventually found a way past home goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to grab a consolation and set up a tense final 20 minutes, but Ramsey and Özil had the final say.
The early groundwork for the victory had to be done without Ramsey, Arsenal's player of the month for the third time in a row, as he was rested.
Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla was drafted in alongside Wilshere and German star Özil in an attacking trio full of flair and creativity.
With a team crammed full of international midfielders, there was little wonder that Arsene Wenger's side spent the majority of their time camped in Norwich's half.
Cazorla carried the ball forward before picking out Wilshere in space just on the edge of the 18-yard box. In turn the England ace played a neat one-two with striker Olivier Giroud before coolly tucking the ball past Ruddy from the Frenchman's flick.
With Norwich struggling to get a foothold in the game, the only disappointment for Arsenal was the sight of midfielder Mathieu Flamini departing after a 30th-minute clash of heads with Alexander Tettey. Ramsey took his place.
Within 10 minutes, the Gunners doubled their lead as Giroud's cross was met by Özil and he buried a header past Ruddy to calm the nerves of the home fans.
They were on the edge of their seats again in the 70th minute, however, when Howson drilled home from just inside the box after Per Mertesacker failed to clear an Elliott Bennett cross.
It fell to the in-form Ramsey to put the game to bed with seven minutes to go, jinking into the box and slamming home his 11th goal of what is turning into a remarkable season.
Özil added his second of the day in the 88th minute as Arsenal fired another warning shot to the rest of the league.
Liverpool and Manchester United fail to win
Arsenal lead the standings by two points from Chelsea, who leapfrogged Liverpool into second place after coming from behind to win 4-1 at home to Cardiff City.
Liverpool, who trail Chelsea on goal difference, twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw at 10-man Newcastle United.
Meanwhile, Manchester United's disappointing start to the Premier League season continued as the defending champions were held to a 1-1 draw at home to high-flying Southampton, with a goal from teenage winger Adnan Januzaj.
Gus Poyet's tenure as manager of bottom club Sunderland began in lamentable fashion as his side crashed 4-0 at Swansea City.
Steven Pienaar scored within seconds of coming on to earn Everton a 2-1 victory at home to Hull City, while West Bromwich Albion were held to a 0-0 draw at Stoke City.