By Mo Khan
Arsenal remain hot on the heels of leaders Tottenham after a 5-0 win at Norwich on Monday night.
The Gunners racked up their seventh win from eight away games this season and, in total, it was their 11th victory out of 15 matches.
Anthony Stokes gave Neil Banfield's side the lead in the third minute and then three goals in four minutes just past the hour made the points safe.
Arturo Lupoli (61), Giorgos Efrem (63) and Nicklas Bendtner (65) all netted in a triple salvo for the visitors.
Stokes added his second, Arsenal's fifth, nine minutes from time to complete a resounding victory at a bitterly cold Carrow Road.
Leaders Tottenham beat Southampton 2-1 on the same night so Banfield's boys remain two points adrift of their local rivals but with a game in hand.
Banfield had made five changes from the side that won 4-1 at Leciester earlier this month and there was a debut at left back for French starlet Armand Traore, who made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt following his arrival from Monaco.
Vito Mannone replaced Mart Poom in goal, Traore came in for Shane Tracy, who dropped to the bench, and Mitchell Murphy moved forward to occupy the left-midfield slot.
Bendtner returned to partner Lupoli in attack and Giorgos Efrem replaced Jay Simpson on the right side of midfield.
However it was Stokes, a 17-year-old Dubliner, who made the breakthrough after three minutes
Sebastian Larsson's in-swinging corner was partially cleared by the home side but the ball fell to Murphy. His fine cross was aerially contested by Bendtner and keeper Joe Lewis in the Canaries penalty area before the ball broke loose for Stokes to steer home left-footed.
To their credit, Norwich did not let the early goal affect them and they continued to make a game of it. However, with Fabrice Muamba marshalling the visitors' rearguard with an energetic, no-nonsense display, the Canaries were reduced almost entirely to shots from long-range.
Meanwhile Arsenal were enjoying the Carrow Road playing surface, which was in splendid condition for this time of year.
Larsson was orchestrating Arsenal's attacks, continually spraying passes for Lupoli and Bendtner to latch onto as they dragged the home defence one way, then the other.
The Gunners nearly doubled their advantage after 18 minutes but Efrem sent his half-volley over the bar from a good position inside the box, following great work by Bendtner.
But no matter. The 16-year-old Cypriot youth international would go on to atone for his miss with an opportunist strike in the second-half.
Indeed, Arsenal had to wait until the 61st minute to double their lead - but it was worth the wait.
The swivelling Bendtner executed a wonderful, volleyed through ball which flew over the home defence and into the path of Lupoli who had spun away from his marker.
With Lewis hurtling off his line, the Italian coolly flicked the ball over the keeper with the outside of his foot. It was the 18-year-old's 17th from 13 starts this term.
Moments later, it was three. Paul Rodgers showed his pace on the right and crossed from the byline. As the first shot was parried by Lewis, Efrem to nod in from close range - his second goal from three starts.
Norwich were there for the taking and Bendtner got the goal his all-round display deserved with a typically forceful run from the left before a right-foot shot which had too much power for Lewis, despite the Canaries' keeper getting a hand to it.
Lupoli tested Lewis again and Stokes fired marginally over from 30 yards before Arsenal added a fifth in the 81st minute.
Stokes was fouled on the edge of the box. He got up to take the free-kick himself and curled it into the bottom left-hand corner.
Anthony Stokes scores opur opener
Armand Traore gets an early touch
Stokes and Martin clash
Gavin Hoyte enters the fray
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- Efrem Goal!
- Bendtner Goal!
- Lupoli Goal!
- Stokes Goal! Goal!