Premier League: Norwich City 0 Arsenal 2
By Football News
Norwich City's Premier League relegation was confirmed as Arsenal warmed up for the FA Cup final with a comfortable 2-0 win at Carrow Road.
Norwich were effectively relegated after Sunderland's 2-0 win over West Brom on Wednesday but saw their drop into the Championship rubber-stamped four days later after second-half goals from Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson gave Arsenal victory.
Ramsey's goal – a stunning volley that crashed into the top-left corner – was truly special and Jack Wilshere's return from a broken foot after the hour-mark only added to Arsenal's joy.
Things were very different for Norwich, who after finishes of 12th and 11th under Chris Hughton, saw their three-year top-flight stay end.
A dreadful run of form, which saw them win just three of their last 25 Premier League matches and included the sacking of Hughton, was to blame for their relegation, and the gulf in class between the two sides on Sunday was evident.
Arsenal's fifth league win in a row is sure to boost confidence ahead of Saturday's FA Cup showpiece against Hull City, as they go in search of their first trophy since winning the same competition in 2005.
Both sides started slowly in what felt like a traditional end-of-season affair, but Norwich – who saw record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel reportedly storm out after learning he would not play a part in the match – eventually brought the contest to life through Nathan Redmond's 18th-minute strike.
Redmond cut inside from the left wing and had a fierce 25-yard effort palmed away by Lukasz Fabianski, making his first Premier League appearance of the season as Arsene Wenger rotated with next week's Wembley trip in mind.
Arsenal eventually found their groove but Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy was in inspired form ahead of Monday's announcement of England's FIFA World Cup squad.
Ruddy first kept out Lukas Podolski after Olivier Giroud's clever backheel played him in before he denied the Frenchman with an outstanding one-on-one save.
A slick move that involved several first-time passes – reminiscent of Wilshere's famous goal in Arsenal's 4-1 win over Norwich at the Emirates Stadium in October – set Giroud up but his shot was tipped over by the excellent Ruddy after 31 minutes.
Even the forward had to applaud the stop and after Ramsey's shot was well-blocked by Michael Turner, the goalkeeper again kept out Giroud, who this time tried a curling strike from distance.
Podolski nodded a header over six minutes after the interval but Ruddy was finally beaten with a piece of individual brilliance.
Ramsey provided it, producing an unstoppable volley from Giroud's ball that the goalkeeper could do nothing about.
And Arsenal quickly doubled their lead in the 62nd minute as defender Jenkinson was on hand to turn in Podolski's blocked shot for his first Arsenal goal.
That saw Wenger hand Wilshere his first appearance since March while team-mate Abou Diaby – and Norwich's Elliott Bennett – both returned from serious knee injuries as the game petered out.
Norwich battled for a late goal, with Robert Snodgrass and Bennett both having chances saved by Fabianski, but Neil Adams' side could not find one final Premier League goal.