Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger backs Norwich City to see off threat of Premier League League relegation
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Norwich City will secure Premier League survival as long as they repeat their Emirates performance from now until the end of the season – according to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners chief felt his side were well worth their seventh win in eight Premier League matches, as their bid for a top-three finish continued to fire on all cylinders – despite needing three goals in the final seven minutes to finally put City's challenge to bed. But the Frenchman was happy to back Norwich to achieve their own end of season goal.
'We left it a bit late and it was unexpected to be 1-0 down at that stage of the game because we were on top and we missed chances,' said Wenger. 'Norwich were strong at set pieces, we knew that and they punished us on that. After that we needed spirit and we needed as well nerve, and we have shown both I think and got in the end a win that we deserved.
'But credit to Norwich. They have played very well. I think if they play like that they will not go down. They defended well and gave us problems.
'We missed the chances and from then on it was important to show absolute resilience and we did it. It is a question of nerves and today the win was a balance of nerves, quality and intelligence. In the end we didn't do anything stupid when we were 1-0 down and kept facing our game. That kind of thing will be important.'
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Wenger took his usual post-match stance on the Gunners' penalty that ultimately changed the course of the match, and was not about to discuss whether home advantage was the deciding factor in it being awarded.
'Honestly, I haven't seen it – but everyone tells me it was a penalty and television replays confirmed it was a penalty,' said Wenger.
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'Maybe it wasn't a corner, but they tell me as well that is wasn't a free-kick (for Norwich's opening goal). No matter what end, you want referees to make the right decision. The real question is was it a penalty or not. If it was a penalty it doesn't matter what end it is. If you go into that kind of speculation, you question every decision of the referee. Everybody says yes, it was a penalty.'
Aside from penalty controversy, Arsenal's abundance of riches on the bench also helped them break down City.
'The luxury we have is to have Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench,' Wenger added. 'We have offensive quality on the bench and at home, once you get a team under pressure, it helps.
'The substitutions had a good impact. They came on with a good attitude and good spirit, and once Norwich got a bit tired it made a difference.
'They restricted us. In this kind of game you need to open it up. To do that you need to score – and we didn't. Then you think let's not make a mistake and you lose a bit of your spontaneous fluency and it becomes more difficult.'