Arsenal have scored two marvellous team goals this season in Jack Wilshere’s goal against Norwich back in October and Tomas Rosicky’s goal against Sunderland last weekend but which was the better ‘Arsenal’ goal?
It’s been almost two decades since Arsene Wenger arrived in North London and since 1996 we have seen some of the most attractive football, some of the most attacking and expansive football as well as some disastrous defending along the way.
An ‘Arsenal’ goal is a team goal, typified by retention of possession, tiki-taka in the final third to deceive the opposition and penetrate the defence with one-touch, pass-and-move play resulting in tap in to beat the keeper.
It’s difficult to compare goals, even if they share some characteristic as Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky’s goals do so I’m going to base my finding on five criteria…
How many players were involved?
In the build up to Jack Wilshere’s goal against Norwich in the 18th minutes at the Emirates, three players touched the ball as Arsenal broke and stormed forward – Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Wilshere.
For Rosicky’s goal against Sunderland on Saturday, four players touched the ball in the build up that began on the halfway line with Santi Cazorla. Wilshere, Rosicky and Olivier Giroud exchanged passes before the Czech veteran finished it off.
How many touches prior to goal?
Cazorla ran with the ball for three touches, Wilshere controlled with one and passed with a second, Cazorla took one to feed Giroud who took one back heel to Wilshere who fired on the half-volley to beat the stopper, equalling eight touches in the build up against Norwich.
It took eleven touches of the ball to see Rosicky finish with the twelfth to score in the build up at the weekend – Cazorla took one, Wilshere took three, Rosicky took two, Cazorla took another one, Rosicky another one, Wilshere another, Rosicky another, Giroud took one for the assist and Rosicky took his final touch to beat the keeper. Impressive stuff.
How good was the finishing touch?
This is down to opinion and mine is that Wilshere’s finish looks more impressive as it is on the half volley but Rosicky had more work to do to chip the out-rushing goalkeeper. Both midfielders make it look easy but I think the elder of the pair had more to do with the final pass than Wilshere who was clear through on goal and picked his spot nicely.
How rubbish was the defence?
Okay, you can only beat what’s in front of you, as they say but which side’s defending was more woeful – Norwich or Sunderland?
On Saturday, Sunderland put absolutely no pressure on the ball in the build up to Rosicky’s goal – they gave the Arsenal midfield and striker time and space in abundance, they didn’t follow the runners (notably Rosicky) into the box and stood in their line like a bus queue
In October, Norwich’s defence ended up looking less like a bus queue and more like a bunch of back-up dancers – by the time Wilshere was through, they were all standing with a yard of each other in the penalty areas staring at the goal.
They also failed to put pressure on the ball or track runners into the box in the build up and they were too easily turned and caught ball-watching, out of shape and they even gave Giroud a little rebound second-chance offering. I’d say Norwich defended slightly worse than Sunderland but both teams gave the Gunners far too much space and time in the build up.
How significant was the goal in the context of the game?
In the context of the two games, neither goal was particularly significant – Arsenal won both games with four goals by a three-goal margin. However, Wilshere’s goal against Norwich was the North Londoners’ opener of that game and the game had been off the back of a 1-1 draw with West Brom the weekend before so, I suppose, compared to Rosicky’s goal this weekend which was Arsenal’s third when they were already 2-0 up by half time, then Wilshere’s goal was slightly more significant.
Overall, I think Rosicky’s goal was more of an ‘Arsenal’ goal in its execution but it was made slightly easier by Norwich’s inferior defending and it was slightly less important in terms of its impact on the game.
Personally, if I had to pick a favourite, it would be Wilshere’s due to the intricacy of the move in such a tight space and the assist from Giroud left the crowd with their mouths agape.
image: © ronmacphotos