Fightback can boost Gunners for season run-in

Posted by Sam Limbert

Arsenal celebrate Lukas Podolski's goalGettyImagesArsenal celebrate Lukas Podolski's goal in the victory over Norwich

In Arsenal's run-in to the end of the season, a home game with Norwich City looked to be one of the simpler matches in the fixture list. With Everton to come on Tuesday, it would have been easy to forget the Norwich game, assume three points were going to be forthcoming and focus on the tougher test. For large chunks of the 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, the Arsenal players seemed to be doing just that.

Having been on a good run of form, the Norwich match would have been a prime example of Arsenal taking their eye off the ball and dropping needless points. Instead, a rousing comeback didn't just keep Arsenal's winning momentum going, it enhanced the feel-good factor around the club that's been gradually building in recent weeks.

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Arguably, I'm reading too much into the win by suggesting that Arsenal's momentum has gathered more pace, as it was a home match against a team that Arsenal should be beating comfortably. However, various circumstances surrounding the victory make it take on greater significance.

After Arsenal had come from behind to take the lead against Norwich last season, the Canaries struck back to claim a 3-3 draw. Norwich also took advantage of a bizarre non-performance from the Gunners earlier in the season to win 1-0 at Carrow Road. Those negative memories were banished by the late comeback.

Had Arsenal won 3-1 having scored a couple of goals in the first half before cruising through the second half, it would have been immensely satisfying, however the fact the players really had to dig deep and fight for the victory should mean that any notion of complacency or taking teams lightly should be banished for the rest of the season.

The other factor that gave this victory even greater significance was that it moved Arsenal into the top three and keeps Champions League qualification in their own hands. Having finally got the chance to sneak ahead of Tottenham, having now played the same number of games, it could have been extremely detrimental to the Arsenal players had they failed to take that chance. With Tottenham not playing again until next Sunday, the Gunners have the opportunity to build a lead and switch the pressure back over to Spurs.

Having focussed a lot on the in-form players before the match, it was pleasing to see the substitutes have a real impact in the comeback. Whilst Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski haven't contributed much to Arsenal's recent good performances, the confidence and belief the team has gained in those games has spread around the squad. Even when facing some adversity, the substitutes were helped by coming into a winning team. They also thrived off the challenge laid down to them by others in the squad. Walcott was just returning from injury, but Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski have had to work to get some game time after the form of Gervinho and Rosicky, so they knew they had to take their chance when it came to change the game on Saturday.

Yes, on paper it was only a home match with Norwich City, but also looking at the result in isolation doesn't show the full impact of scoring three goals late in the game to win. The full impact of the win won't be seen until Arsenal play Everton on Tuesday, as a similarly slow start to the game could prove more costly against the Toffees.

The reaction of the players, the fans and Arsene Wenger after the goals showed how important the victory was. It was the sort of win that can galvanise the players and the fans and unites them more. Most Gooners will have woken up this morning with a smile on their face, as whilst during the game it might feel like you're being put through the mire, when a late comeback win does occur, everyone is pumped up by it, regardless of the opposition.

Arsenal were all set to slip up on Saturday, however the stirring comeback to dodge the banana skin could have numerous positive effects for the rest of the season.

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