With the lack of club football this weekend, nostalgia reared it’s occasionally beautiful head.
Nostalgia is often associated with looking back on the past with rose-tinted glasses, and while there have no doubt been some highlights over the past half-decade, there’s been plenty of moments that have frustrated.
That being said, one thing that has remained contestant for Arsenal is wonderful goals. A good goal can go down in history; can form the way an entire club is perceived to the public; can be the thing that inspires you to follow a club through thick and thin in the first place.
Arsenal players, throughout history, have scored some of the greatest goals ever seen both domestically and in Europe.
Even though it’s now decades ago, people won’t forget Dennis Bergkamp masterfully making his way into the Newcastle United box or Thierry Henry both setting up and finish off an outstanding strike against Manchester United any time soon.
Arsenal’s folklore is written in majestic goals - whatever the situation has been within the club, there’s always a moment of magic to brighten things up.
So, what of the past 5 years? What were the stand-out, exceptional goals of Arsene Wenger’s final years in the dugout?
The goals mentioned below don’t necessarily have significance – they aren’t cup winners or league clinchers. The main criteria for inclusion was the skill involved, and how aesthetically pleasing they are.
Without further ado…
Granit Xhaka is a player who’s talents lend themselves very well to goal compilations.
The Swiss midfielder is always likely to fire off a long-range effort when he find himself with a few yards of space around him. Often times, it doesn’t come off – but every now and then, as Arsenal fans have seen over the past 2 seasons, it lands just right, and you get a goal like this.
Xhaka, who had been signed just a few months prior to this goal, takes a few touches, and is not pressured by the Hull defence. He settles himself, and then absolutely blasts the ball into the roof of the Tigers net with unstoppable ferocity.
At 30 yards out, this goal required immense technique and was an undoubtedly wonderful finish. Teams have become very aware of Xhaka’s penchant for a long-range effort, and management have made sure that his opportunities to attempt efforts like this are as limited as possible, because the Swiss captain has this in his locker.
This is the most recent finish on the list, coming in last season’s Europa League quarter final first leg encounter with CSKA Moscow.
A bit like the goal that tops this list of finishes, this goal by Aaron Ramsey is somewhat of a freak finish.
The Welsh midfielder contorts his body in a scarcely believable way to deceive the defenders and the goalkeeper in one swift movement, leaving them as bystanders as the ball loops into the net.
He finds himself with a great deal of space within the CSKA Moscow penalty area, but also, a lot to do. Mesut Ozil does well to find him so deftly, but Ramsey’s quick-thinking and technique for this finish are immense.
To those who had gathered in the Emirates for this important clash, this goal, which came in a first half masterclass that seen both Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette bag braces, was almost unbelievable, as it was not immediately obvious just how the ball went from Ramsey’s person into the net.
As became clear upon replays within the Emirates, it was the result of a player playing with remarkable confidence, and helping Arsenal all but claim there place in a European semi-final.
This is the best goal Ozil scored in an Arsenal shirt. The way the German commands the ball is magical in the run up to this goal – he embarrasses several players, and ends up placing the ball gently into an open goal.
In many ways, his taunting with the ball before putting it in the net was unnecessary – he may well have been able to finish this effort with a first time shot after taking the ball down; or again, once he had rounded the goal keeper; but no, he persisted, and took away every possibility that he would miss the final effort.
This goal does a good job of approximating what Ozil is capable of – what he has in his locker. When the midfielder is in-form, there’s few who can best him, which can sometimes be forgotten about when he underperforms, which he is also quite susceptible to.
Bulgarian Champions Ludogorets must have been sick of the site of Ozil following their two matches against the Gunners – in their opening match against them, the midfielder took home the match ball after bagging a hat-trick; in the second match, after mounting a fine challenge, the Gunners came from 2 goals down, and at the death, Ozil scored this goal to claim a 3-2 victory on the day.
This goal sums up Arsenal at their very best for me. It’s not the only one of its ilk – fast passing play and near inhuman coordination between players – but in my opinion, this is the one that does it best.
It’s an opinion that’s shared by many as well – it did end up winning goal of the season in 2014.
The cohesion, the 1-2’s, the way that it makes the opposing professional footballers look helpless – this was an unstoppable piece of play, and possibly the best team goal in Premier League history.
While Wilshire is no longer a Gunner, and unfortunately his ever so-promising career at the Emirates was all too often blighted by injury, this goal will live long in the memory.
When everything fell into place for Wenger’s sides, it really was a wonderous thing to watch. In the later years of his reign, perhaps it didn’t happen enough, but this finish is one of the highlights of his management style.
If you wanted to introduce someone to the way Wenger wanted football to be played, in a perfect world without error or interruption, then this is the goal you would show to exhibit it.
If Wilshire’s goal was perhaps the most intricate piece of play ever topped off in Premier League history, what could possibly beat it to the pinnacle of Arsenal’s top 5 goals in the past 5 years?
Olivier Giroud scorpion kicking a ball from the edge of Crystal Palace’s box past a terribly helpless Wayne Hennessey, that’s what!
This was a freak goal. It was an absolutely astonishing manoeuvre from Giroud, who, like the rest of the Arsenal side, was seconds earlier braced to defend a Palace attack.
There’s a good argument, in my opinion, for this being the best Premier League goal scored of all time. It may be a controversial opinion – in that similar arguments could be made that it is the least skillful goal on this list – but it’s an incredibly satisfying finish.
The break out from the back, the fast forward movement, the incredible flick… but perhaps most of all, the clink of the crossbar, just to ensure that the effort was basically unstoppable.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of goal, pulled off to perfection, and my favourite Arsenal goal of the past 5 years.