This blog is written for one purpose and one purpose only, namely, to celebrate the goal that ended with big man Ollie staring at the giant screen in amazement after scoring the goal of 2017 on the first day of the year.
We can break the goal down to each integral piece of the puzzle that made it a spectacle for all to behold. And the preceding bit is important because in its essence lies Wengerball, the instinctive one-two touch passing football that we have all been lucky to see from our team when on song.
A Lucas Perez ball recovery on the edge of our own box sends the ball to Hector Bellerin, who plays a simple pass through to Olivier Giroud.
He plays an exquisitely deft back-heel through his legs to Granit Xhaka, spinning away from the defender and sprinting up the pitch afterwards to get himself available for the ball in the end.
Granit Xhaka sends it to Alexi Iwobi with one touch, and our number 10 on the day sees Alexis flying up the left wing and passes it to him with space to run.
Alexis collects the ball right on the edge of the Palace penalty area out to the left. He then takes his customary look up at the state of things, during which he sees Giroud making his trademark near post run between two defenders.
He swings a ball in for Giroud, who has in his haste to get back, sprinted past the ball’s trajectory. Instinctively he raises a foot in the approximate direction of the ball’s flight, and connects with a scorpion kick from behind his back.
The ball flies off his boot in the most delightful arc to hit the underside of the bar and go in, beating Hennessey in the process.
As @gunnerblog rightly said, the deft flick from Giroud had a lot of people on their feet, who had gotten wind of something special building. Very regularly as Arsenal fans, we are used to seeing this sort of flick go to waste because of the very limited pace of Giroud to get back into the box to make something of his own trickery. However, yesterday was not a normal day, it was a great deal more than that.
Xhaka taking the single touch to let Iwobi on is also very important, because for all his genius and goal threat, if that ball found Ramsey in the same position we all know what the output would have been: a 360 turn that left him inexplicably facing his own goal.
Iwobi at number 10 seems to have flown under the radar for a lot many people, especially because he did not share the kind of telepathy with Alexis that Ozil shares when both of them are on the pitch. It might be news to some, but Iwobi is the only Arsenal player in the Whoscored.com Team of the Week. His pass in the goal is similar to what Xhaka did, passing to the man in the better position and maintaining the verticality of the attack.
Alexis Sanchez stalls with the ball a lot and he seems to do that even more when Giroud plays for some reason, almost looking for a better option at times delaying the final ball too long. However, his ball from the left wing is a potent weapon in our attacking Arsenal, many will remember Mesut Ozil running onto one such ball from Sanchez earlier in the season to score a telepathic goal. Xhaka made similar runs into the box against West Brom. Giroud makes them a lot. The final ball for Giroud’s goal was not of insane quality to be honest, much better final balls were lashed across the 6-yard box through the course of the game and nobody could get on the end of one for a tap in. Alexis has Giroud to thank for gifting him an assist, this time around.
Giroud’s part in the goal has been explored to death in the media and on Twitter so I will limit myself to saying that it was a once in a lifetime finish, the kind of goal we all score in our dreams. I would however, like to explore what happened after the match when Ollie and Hector were being interviewed.
Giroud swept aside the question of whether Mkhitaryan’s goal had been in his mind and kept the answers humble and making it about the team effort and win. He admitted he got lucky and it was not something that could ever have been planned.
That much is routine, and then Bellerin popped in. When asked if he had scored that sort of goal in training, Giroud took the modesty route and said he had not. Hector Bellerin however, decided that was too modest. He basically said that Giroud scores a lot of quality goals in training and that the squad know his quality and have no doubt about it.
That particular exchange for me, was even more meaningful than the goal. For some reason it filled me with pride at the class shown by our players, which is honestly unending. For a more satisfying relay of the exact exchange, I suggest people watch it hear
Giroud has been a bit part player for much of the season this year, but he has taken it upon himself to come back stronger and make a difference to the cause when called upon. Goals at United, Sunderland, West Brom and now Palace have made him a hero for fans and while this will change quickly I think we should all take some time out to appreciate just how hard the man has been trying for us and the various top class games he has had. Nights like the Champions League game away to Olympiakos should not be forgotten in a hurry either, as much as people may like to swing things around to fit their own opinions.
I hope this goal is remembered and celebrated for a long time to come. Here’s to looking forward to more of such stuff from the big man.
Till the next time, COYG!