By Rob Kelly at Carrow Road
The last time Arsenal played at Carrow Road, much of the talk afterwards was about the prodigious young German who had just made his Premier League debut, Serge Gnabry.
This time around it was another fine German prospect, Thomas Eisfeld, who stepped into the spotlight with a thrilling, clinical performance as the Gunners ran out 4-2 winners.
The 19-year-old has already earned a well-deserved reputation for scoring goals at this level, and he added another two to his total in Norfolk.
After Chuba Akpom had opened the scoring in the 14th minute, and Norwich had equalised 60 seconds later, suddenly Eisfeld took over.
His quick feet, intelligence and timing made him a constant menace, and he gave Terry Burton’s side the lead again with a composed finish just after the half-hour mark.
Eisfeld's second was even better. After being found running into space to the left of the area in the 50th minute, he looked up and curled the ball around the outstretched hand of Declan Rudd and into the far corner.
Norwich remained a danger, and a grandstand finish looked on the cards when Joshua Murphy won a penalty that David Fix coolly slotted home.
But Kristoffer Olsson’s fine 75th-minute strike secured the victory for Arsenal on a highly-encouraging night in Norfolk.
When Arsenal’s second string last visited Carrow Road, an experienced side containing the likes of Andrey Arshavin, Carl Jenkinson and Yossi Benayoun ran out convincing 5-0 winners.
Terry Burton named a far younger team this time around, with Samir Bihmoutine and Alfred Mugabo both handed their first starts at under-21 level, and from the off it was clear another thrashing would not be on the cards.
A entertaining first half started off relatively slowly, but came alive in the 14th minute when a poor backpass by Marc Tierney allowed Akpom to close down Rudd. The under-pressure Norwich goalkeeper tried to buy some space to clear, but only succeeded in knocking the ball straight into the onrushing Akpom and into the roof of the net.
Within 60 seconds though, Arsenal had repaid the favour as Gnabry’s loose pass on the edge of the box handed Jamar Loza the perfect chance to equalise. The striker made no mistake as he looked up and curled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Akpom was soon presented with a good opportunity when his one-two with Eisfeld bought him time and space in the box, but he lashed his left-footed drive over the bar. Midway through the half, the England Under-19 striker had another opening after Gnabry fed him on the edge of the area, but his low drive was comfortably held by Rudd.
Burton’s side were a constant threat going forward, and they re-established their lead in the 33rd minute when Gnabry set Eisfeld clean through on goal. The German midfielder kept his composure to slot the ball into the bottom corner past the helpless Rudd.
Norwich remained a threat in attack themselves, and soon after Gnabry had tested Rudd with a low shot, Murphy crashed a shot narrowly wide from 20 yards.
Arsenal started the second half on the front foot, and Eisfeld’s imperious finishing was again in evidence when he scored his second in the 50th minute. The German was played into space to the left of the box and he bent his shot around Rudd and into the far corner.
Norwich gamely went in search of the goal that would give them a way back into the match, and Damian Martinez had to be alert to palm away a fierce Murphy drive.
It was England Under-19 international Murphy who looked to have dragged Norwich back into the game in the 71st minute when he won a penalty after being taken down by Sead Hajrovic.
Danny Fox stroked it home confidently, but Arsenal soon re-established their two-goal lead as Olsson fired in brilliantly after Angha’s cross had deflected into his path.
That was enough to seal victory for Burton’s men after a thoroughly-entertaining match at Carrow Road.
- Hajrovic Yellow Card
- Miquel (C)
- Angha 90
- Bihmoutine 84
- Mugabo 57
- Meade Yellow Card
- Olsson Goal!
- Eisfeld Goal! Goal!
- Akpom Goal!
- Ormonde-Ottewill 57
- Monteiro 84
- Jebb 90
- Fox Goal!
- Clunan (C)
- Murphy 82
- King 64
- Loza Goal! Yellow Card
- Hall-Johnson 64
- Morris 82