Arsenal picked up their fifth consecutive win in all competitions on Boxing Day with a 5-0 victory against struggling Norwich.
Goals from Kieran Tierney, Alexandre Lacazette, Emile Smith Rowe and a Bukayo Saka brace were more than enough to secure all three Premier League points at Carrow Road.
The result leaves Arsenal fourth, while Norwich remain bottom of the table.
Both teams are back in action on Tuesday. The Gunners host champions and leaders Manchester City, while the Canaries travel to Crystal Palace.
Here are the main talking points on a comfortable afternoon for Mikel Arteta’s side.
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Europe in sight
Few would’ve backed Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League after their nightmare start to the season, yet here they are.
Arteta’s side are now six points clear of bitter rivals Tottenham in fifth and just three points behind European champions Chelsea in third.
Arsenal fans will be looking over their shoulders – with both Spurs and Manchester United having three games in hand – but they’ll still be having a merry Christmas.
Gunners legend Paul Merson recently described his former employers as “flat track bullies”… and it’s hard to disagree with that.
They’re breezing past teams at the bottom of the table and struggling against their rivals, losing to Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd this season.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. If Arsenal can keep winning against the likes of Norwich, European qualification will be more likely than not.
No Auba, again
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was again left out of Arteta’s squad, the fifth game he’s missed since he was dropped and stripped of the captaincy for “displinary reasons”.
And, with Africa Cup of Nations starting in just two weeks, it’s unlikely he’ll play for Arsenal again until February – if he doesn’t leave before.
Rumours suggest Juventus and Barcelona are interested in signing Aubameyang, who will represent Gabon at the upcoming international tournament.
“He’s a really nice guy, we all miss him, but it is what it is,” said Arsenal defender Ben White on Christmas Eve.
Arteta’s fresh attack
If and when Aubameyang is available for selection again, he may struggle to get back into Arsenal’s strike force after another fabulous display.
Their opening goal was a brilliantly crafted move, as slick passing between Gabriel Martinelli, Lacazette and Martin Odegaard found Saka for a delightful finish.
Odegaard’s assist for Tierney’s strike was also lovely, playing a perfectly-timed ball into the path of the Scottish left-back.
And Saka’s second goal was the perfect way to secure all three points, cutting in from the right to hammer home with his left peg.
Arsenal have now won five consecutive games in all competitions since Aubameyang was dropped, scoring 19 goals.
And we’re not used to seeing Arteta’s side score. They managed just 55 goals in the Premier League last term, seven fewer than Leeds.
The Spaniard appears to have found a solution to his attacking problems… and that – rather than displinary issues – could spell the end for Aubameyang
White shows leadership
Arteta was without four potential right-backs on Boxing Day, as Takehiro Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all tested positive for Covid.
The Spaniard’s worries, though, were eased by White, who produced a stellar display in an unfamiliar role.
The £50million defender looked composed and comfortable throughout the afternoon, reassuring Arteta of his dependability.
And, with the captaincy up for grabs, it was a well-timed performance. At 24 and with potentially 10 years at the top to come, White may be the perfect man for the job.
“I think I’ve got some of the qualities to be captain, but we’ll see in time,” added White on Christmas Eve.
Norwich facing drop
Another day, another loss for the Premier League’s basement boys.
It’s now four straight defeats for Norwich and, on Sunday’s evidence, it’s unlikely they’ll be getting out of the bottom three anytime soon.
The Canaries failed to lay a glove on Arsenal – who were in command from start to finish – producing just two shots on target. The home fans must’ve been bored to tears.
If Norwich are going to stay up against the odds, they need to start winning. They face Crystal Palace (twice), Leicester, Everton and Watford in their next five league games.
Manager Dean Smith will be looking to pick up two or three victories from that fortunate run. That’s a good scenario, though, and the reality is likely to be much bleaker.