x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Premier League: Wenger hails Arsenal's show of nerves and spirit against Norwich City

Couple of decisions go the Gunners way as they rally past a battling Norwich, who still need a couple of wins to secure their top-flight status.

Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn and Russell Martin argue with the assistant referee Richard West. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images
Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn and Russell Martin argue with the assistant referee Richard West. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

LONDON // Arsene Wenger praised Arsenal's strength of character after they came from behind with three late goals to move back into the top four of the Premier League and deny Norwich City a famous victory at Emirates Stadium.

With Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur not in action this weekend because of the FA Cup semi-finals, Arsenal had the chance to put Uefa Champions League qualification back in their own hands.

However, Norwich - who still need a couple of wins to secure their top-flight status - produced a resolute battling display and took the lead on 56 minutes through Michael Turner's close-range header.

With the clock ticking, Arsenal were handed a way back into the match with just five minutes left when the assistant referee spotted a shirt pull on Olivier Giroud by Kei Kamara in the area.

Mikel Arteta kept his cool from the spot to level, before Giroud's close-range effort turned the match around and substitute Lukas Podolski wrapped things up in stoppage time.

"We left it late, and it was of course unexpected to be 1-0 down at that stage of the game because we were on top and missed chances," said Wenger. "Norwich we knew were strong on set pieces and they punished us for that. We needed spirit and also nerves, we have shown both and in the end got the win we deserved.

"We missed chances and from then on it was important to show absolute resilience and we did it."

Norwich bitterly protested the penalty decision, which came following a corner and was not given initially by referee Mike Jones until he consulted with Richard West on the far side. Wenger, though, felt justice had been served.

He said: "Honestly, I have not seen it but people have told me it was a penalty. Television confirmed the penalty. Maybe it was not a corner, but they tell me as well it was not a free kick [for Norwich's goal]."

Wenger's opposite number, Chris Hughton, disagreed.

"My first thought is that it was not a corner in the first place, but what I am more aggrieved about is there is contact with Kei, but he swivels and plays the ball," he said. "You have a linesman who makes a decision from 40 or 50 yards away and the referee who is eight yards away and has the perfect view. Their third goal was also offside.

"I have had a private conversation with the referee, but I am still not convinced."

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