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.
Premier League: Wenger hails Arsenal's show of nerves and spirit against Norwich City
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."
Everton 2 QPR 0
Everton Gibson 40’, Anichebe 56’
If their display at Goodison Park is anything to go by then QPR’s return to the Championship appears a formality as a performance lacking in attitude, endeavour and invention got its reward. A deflected strike from Darron Gibson and a smart finish from Victor Anichebe five minutes either side of half-time secured a victory the hosts were just not made to work hard enough for.
Reading 0 Liverpool 0
Brendan Rodgers endured a frustrating return to Reading as a remarkable performance from goalkeeper Alex McCarthy saw Liverpool held to a goalless draw. Time and again McCarthy came to Reading’s rescue by producing a succession of saves to deny Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. Liverpool dominated play at the Madejski Stadium and could have finished clear winners but for McCarthy’s brilliance.
Aston Villa 1 Fulham 1
Aston Villa N’Zogbia 55’
Fulham Delph 66’ (og)
Aston Villa missed the chance to pull clear of the relegation zone as Fabian Delph’s bad day proved costly against Fulham. Charles N’Zogbia made the breakthrough Villa deserved before the hour mark. However Delph’s own goal, combined with a glaring miss in the 73rd minute, allowed Fulham to go home with a point and denied Villa the chance to go five points clear of the bottom three.
Southampton 1 West Ham1
Southampton Ramirez 59’
West Ham Carroll 66’
Andy Carroll earned West Ham a hard-fought point in miserable conditions at Southampton yesterday, bringing the hosts’ three-match winning streak to an end. The hosts’ club record signing Gaston Ramirez netting the opener on 59 minutes. However, Carroll fired low past goalkeeper Artur Boruc seven minutes later – his sixth league goal of the season – to earn a point.
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