Arsenal edge past Norwich in 1-0 win on day of fan protest

LONDON: Substitute Danny Welbeck's second-half goal helped Arsenal to a 1-0 victory Saturday over relegation-threatened Norwich in the Premier League on a day of protests and division among the home fans.

Welbeck scored in the 59th minute after strike partner Olivier Giroud nodded down a cross for him in the center of the area. Up to that point, Norwich had the clearest chances in the match, with midfielder Nathan Redmond missing three first-half opportunities.

Arsenal provisionally moved third, with 67 points, aiding their chances of securing a Champions League spot for next season. Norwich is in 19th place, with 31 points, with the defeat denting its hopes of remaining in the league next season.

Several hundred Arsenal fans held up signs in protest in the 12th minute to signify anger and disappointment that it has been 12 years since the London club won a league title. The sign, in the red and white colors of the club, said "Time for Change. Arsenal is Stale. Fresh Approach Needed."

Earlier this week, two Arsenal supporters groups had called on fans to protest, saying they were fed up with just playing for fourth place, or essentially a Champion League spot, each year.

The protest seemed to be a minority, with many fans booing the protesters and singing in support of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. But the bitter division among the fans was evident when two fans got into an argument with a fellow supporter. It got so heated that stewards escorted two of the fans out of the stadium.

Welbeck's shot into the left-hand corner came just three minutes after he came off the bench to keep Arsenal from further embarrassment in a disappointing season.

Until then, Norwich looked like it might boost its survival hopes. The visitors had several chances in the first half, with Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech's left shin just keeping out Redmond's low shot in the 11th minute. Another couple of opportunities fell to Redmond before halftime, with the midfielder stinging Cech's palms with a volley, and moments later a fierce shot from him went just wide of the post.

Norwich nearly equalized in the 70th after Redmond made a blazing run down the right. He crossed to substitute Dieumerci Mbokani who was a fraction of a second from poking the ball in, but Arsenal defender Gabriel cleared the danger just in time.