Ramsey's rocket gives Gunners little consolation
Norwich 0 Arsenal 2
IF IT was not quite the goal of a season decorated with extraordinary strikes, then it was the worthiest of late contenders.
Aaron Ramsey, as if giving a painful precis on Arsenal's season of unfulfilled promise, unleashed the most exquisite volley to help end the campaign with a fifth successive victory and remind Arsene Wenger of a talent this team had been deprived of for too long.
For Norwich, however, a 21st defeat merely underscored the inadequacies that have brought about their deserved relegation.
Johan Elmander, a striker so consistently awful that he was booed off by his own supporters to cries of "donkey", was again a passenger as his team-mates slumped on the ground in despair at the final whistle. But given they had needed Sunderland to lose and to bridge a 17-goal goal difference, a sense of futility about their fate had been present from the outset.
As it transpired, Arsenal simply highlighted their belated resurgence ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Hull, where they trust they can end a nine-year wait for silverware and justify Wenger's imminent contract extension.
Against feeble resistance, Ramsey's masterstroke, after a 14-week absence with a thigh injury, was an emphatic statement, while right-back Carl Jenkinson's first goal for Arsenal provided the embroidery.
They broke through early in the second half when Olivier Giroud, floating a delicious ball across the area, picked out Ramsey, who set himself and unleashed the most cultured volley into the top corner.
Nine minutes later the celebrations were doubled by Jenkinson, as Lukas Podolski's shot was deflected into his path for him to register his maiden Arsenal goal.
Wenger plainly regarded this victory as largely cosmetic, alluding to Arsenal's lost opportunity to achieve something more tangible than Champions League qualification for a 17th straight season.
"Unfortunately, it is the first time that 79 points gets fourth place," he said.
"It was very tight. We can be frustrated. But we wanted to finish well, and when you think that we have won 11 games away from home and recorded a 17th clean sheet, it is remarkable. It is a good basis for the Cup final."
Norwich caretaker manager Neil Adams wore the haggard look of a man fearful for his future, with Tim Sherwood and Malky Mackay touted as frontrunners to usurp him this summer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)