By Graham Chase
Arsenal scored three in the final seven minutes as they fought back to beat Norwich and rise to third in the table.
Norwich took the lead just before the hour through Michael Turner’s header from a Robert Snodgrass free-kick.
Mikel Arteta equalised from the spot after Kei Kamara was adjudged to have hauled over Olivier Giroud.
Giroud then touched in from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross before substitute Lukas Podolski drove in a third in added time.
For 85 minutes, Arsene Wenger looked set to start a pivotal week for his team’s Champions League hopes with a defeat.
But, with games to come against Everton and Fulham before top-four rivals Tottenham are next in action against Manchester City on 21 April, his team answered plenty of questions about their quality and mental strength to secure a seventh win in eight Premier League matches.
Norwich were left furious that the 86th-minute penalty given against them was awarded by linesman Richard West rather than referee Mike Jones, who was far closer to the incident.
Canaries manager Chris Hughton also felt Arsenal’s third should have been ruled out for offside but the truth is that his team simply fell apart after the penalty decision.
After seeing what would have been a second win since 15 December turn to nothing, they remain only four points above the relegation zone.
They failed to register a single effort on goal in the opening period but denied Arsenal by packing the central area.
Arsenal’s best opportunity came when Bacary Sagna’s cross was headed against the bar by Giroud.
Gervinho was also wasteful when he was picked out by a Santi Cazorla pass only to run too wide around Mark Bunn before missing the target.
The impressive Norwich defender Steven Whittaker also diverted a Giroud header wide as Arsenal failed to make the most of a succession of corners just before the break.
The visitors finally threatened when a deep corner from Robert Snodgrass was won by Sebastien Bassong and glanced on by Turner before being hacked clear.
Turner, who appeared to catch Aaron Ramsey with a forearm in the opening period, was worked at the other end when he blocked a shot from the returning Jack Wilshere as the hosts appealed for handball.
But 11 minutes into the second period, Turner pulled away from Vermaelen to glance a Snodgrass free-kick into the corner of the net.
Wenger responded by throwing on Theo Walcott and Podolski but Norwich had the chance to snatch a second when Bassong broke clear and Snodgrass had a drive held by Lukasz Fabianski.
Norwich keeper Bunn pushed a powerful Podolski drive onto the bar to preserve the visitors’ advantage.
But following an Arteta corner, West spotted a foul by Kamara on Giroud and Arteta converted his fifth penalty of the season to draw the Gunners level.
Less than three minutes later, Oxlade-Chamberlain swapped passes with Podolski before clipping in a low cross that was tapped in by Giroud.
In added time, Arsenal scored a third when Walcott burst down the right and pulled back for Podolski to find the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
“I thought we wouldn’t give in, and fight until the end. We have great attitude, spirit and desire and it got us there. We deserved to win but we were against a strong side and needed something special.
“We have shown that we are ready for a fight.
“We want consistency and that demands huge focus because you can see how quickly you’re punished. We’re not far away but we just have to keep winning.”
Norwich manager Chris Hughton:
“A decision has gone against us that a linesman has given from 45 to 50 yards away and the referee is less than 10 yards away.
“For a linesman to give it from that distance, and the third goal was offside and it was 10 yards away from him, it’s almost criminal on a day that we deserved so much more.
“It’s not as if you’ll show it back and [the referee’s] view was blocked. He had a clear view and didn’t give it and the linesman did and that’s really tough on us. We gave a really good account of ourselves for 85 minutes. We need to bounce back but we showed a lot of character and a lot of good things.”