Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday June 12 2008
Having undertaken a comprehensive season review and in a vain attempt to alleviate the flow of transfer crap (I`m looking at you Daily Telegraph), it struck me that it might be worth recounting some of our finest goals last season. As ever, the quality of our football was beyond doubt and some of the goals have been pieces of aesthetic beauty. There have been individual moments of genius, as well as fluidly constructed team efforts. In fact, the quality of some of our goals this season has been such that Flamini`s thirty yard exorset against Newcastle United does not appear. Without further ado; this is my personal top five.
5. Francesc Fabregas versus A.C. Milan (a)
With the tie in its death throes and locked at 0-0, despite Arsenal`s dominance, A.C. Milan looked as though they had hung in long enough to force extra time on their own patch. With Fabregas having already given the cross bar a stern warning in the first half, the young Catalonian had decided that he would not settle for being the bridesmaid of an impressive performance. One could visibly sense the sense of responsibility as he took the ball in the centre circle, manoeuvred past Pirlo and Gattuso no less, before arrowing a low shot into the bottom corner, leaving no way back for the defending Champions. In celebration, he sprinted over to the bench to his manager. Not only was it an excellent goal and a very important one, but its symbolic importance is not to be dismissed. Having bossed the game consummately on the biggest stage, Cesc put the seal on a match he had composed. The players he left trailing in his wake was a tangible sign that this prodigal Spanish prince had taken on the mantle of King and ushered in a new era of central midfield genius for his generation. This goal was no foot in the door operation; Cesc was breaking the lock and taking the lot.
4. Emmanuel Adebayor versus Newcastle (a)
A goal that crystallized the stultifying progress of this player. With only three minutes on the clock, Emmanuel Eboue sent over a precise right wing cross with Ade the only player in the area. With the ball travelling at an awkward height and with his back to goal, Manu controlled the ball on his chest before swivelling and smashing a lightning volley over Shay Given`s despairing left hand all in one movement. An improvised effort of breathtaking quality in its idea and execution from a player who had previously been ridiculed for his finishing. It marked his transition into Arsenal`s spearhead. Thirty goals from 104 shots suggests his finishing was consistently accurate throughout the whole season.
3. Eduardo versus Manchester City (a)
This one falls into the twin categories of flowing team move and individual master piece. Diaby brought the ball forward into City`s half, before playing a cute reverse pass to Clichy on the left. The Hurricane demonstrated the marked improvement in his crossing by sending a flighted ball to Adebayor at the back post; Ade had the presence of mind and composure to head down to Eduardo. With his back to goal, the Crozilian elucidated his impressive knack for goal, by chesting the ball down with his back facing the target before hooking a neat volley over his shoulder and past Joe Hart. Not only was the goal symptomatic of Clichy`s improved delivery and Arsenal`s new acumen with crosses into the box, it also signified how Eduardo had begun to seamlessly blend into the framework of Arsenal`s pyrotechnic football. Adebayor and Eduardo had forged a lethal understanding that was the bane of the Premiership`s erstwhile defences. Three weeks alter that partnership was curtailed in tragic circumstances. Things would never be the same again.
2. Francesc Fabregas versus Slavia Praha (h)
The only goal scored at home that makes the top five. Arsenal`s flowing football is often effective, but there it times when it really comes together when it is close to perfection. This goal was one of those magical moments. Fittingly, it could easily have come from the Invincibles` handbook. Slavia won a corner, which was cleared by the head of Gallas. Hleb picked the ball up and sauntered down the left flank, before releasing Adebayor on the edge of the area. He shimmied past his man before delivering a short pass to Walcott on the eighteen yard line; Theo added a deft one touch pass that split Praha`s defence in two and found the onrushing Fabregas to slide the ball past a bewildered keeper. A perfect goal that capped a perfect night.
1. Emmanuel Adebayor versus Tottenham Hotspur (a) PL
The perfect goal at the perfect time against the perfect opponents. With Tottenham having taken their mandatory one goal lead at the Lane, Ade and a cracker from Cesc had given Arsenal the lead. Tottenham, full of pre season promises to steal our mantle as North London`s top dogs, had started terribly and were marooned in the relegation zone. Arsenal had started their campaign in a much more comprehensive fashion. With Arsenal in front with five minutes remaining, the man assigned the responsibility of propelling the Spuds to glory, Darren "I can`t believe it`s not Thierry" Bent, went through on goal to level the scores. He demonstrated the modesty of his £16m transfer fee by stumbling and spooning the ball wide in comic fashion. (All it needed was a comedy sound effect). Tottenham poured forward for an equaliser and Arsenal broke; Fabregas putting Denilson through on goal, but the portly frame of Robinson blocked his effort. The ball spun back to Fabregas, who delivered a precise ball to the feet of Adebayor with his back to goal. Those of you that wasted your youth on the infamous Mortal Kombat computer game will remember the "Finish him" instruction at the end of a bout. Well Adebayor finished Spurs by administering a savage blow. He tossed the ball up on the edge of his boot, before spinning and smashing an unstoppable volley into the top corner to seal Arsenal`s rightful place at the head of the Premiership table. Spurs fans walked out en masse as Adebayor surveyed the scene. Tottenham`s challenge for the Top Four was over. It was September.
Well those are my choices; I`m sure some will beg to differ. Perhaps you feel van Persie`s venomous free kick against Sunderland deserves a mention, Fabregas` deft curler against Prague or his stunning effort at White Hart Lane? Do you feel Walcott`s eighty yard run at Anfield deserves pride of place? Your comments, as ever, are appreciated.LD.
Date:Thursday June 12 2008
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