What Makes A Great Goal?

Amongst the usual levels of vitriol that is the norm for the Gooner fanbase, a spike in consternation has been seen across the social networks.

Arsenal over the summer, have been conducting a survey, asking fans to vote on the clubs greatest goal.

The results are in, and quelle surprise – the list that has been voted in has caused fury with some glaring omissions and what most would see as errors.

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Firstly, as the Top50 has been cast by votes, there can be no errors. The delights of democracy have gifted us with a voice, and this has seen many an apparent aberration amongst some of the goals.

To truly decide which goals deserve a place amongst the echelons of goals scored in an Arsenal shirt, there has to be certain parameters that are fulfilled. How do you decide what makes a truly great goal?

Chief among the variables that differentiate between a good goal and a great one should be technique. That moment when the ball strikes the net and the first reaction you have is a gasp. That subconscious sound that precedes your chosen exclamation, that noise you make that you cannot switch off. It is prompted by seeing something truly delightful.

Number one on this list on the Arsenal website is Dennis Bergkamp’s beautiful improvisation Vs Newcastle. In terms of footballing aesthetics, it is worthy of its place. Have we seen the likes before or since? No.

However, if the list was to be made up on simply wonderful goals, then surely Jack Wilshere’s team goal against Norwich in 2014 warrants a Top10 slot? What of Rosicky against Sunderland and his ripsnorter against the enemy? If it was purely beauty above all else, then even Ozil’s goal against Napoli would deserve a mention. Ian Wright’s effort against Everton would surely be higher

If the Top50 was measured on this one dimension, it would not match up.

Great goals reserve a special place in your memory due to many reasons, and along with how perfect the goal scored was, the location and event the goal was procured at matters just as much.

One of the golden-hued moments in our history is when we won the title at Old Trafford in 2002. Songs are still sung, banners are still displayed that commemorate that special game. I personally have the moment Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler’s voice cracked as he exclaimed ” Wiltoooooooooorrrrdd!!!”

That goal isn’t on the list.

Another goal which is criminally undervalued is Alan Smith’s European winner against the titans of Parma. This also isn’t on the list.

Ray Kennedy to win the title at White Hart Lane in 1971. Not on the list.

So it is safe to assume that the occasion matters little to the majority of the voters. Some of the biggest matches and triumphs in the clubs history are negligibly tossed aside in favour of twenty five yard missiles in a regular Premier League game.

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In the Top ten we have Arshavin’s effort against Blackburn and Adebayor’s acrobatic effort against Villareal in the Champions League Semi-Final.

While both fine efforts, and Adebayor’s especially, given that it was a thirty yard overhead kick, do these outshine the goal that gave us our first Double?

A veritable ‘Great’ goal should be a perfect mix of pure technique and memorable occasion. The perfect example of this would be Zinedine Zidane’s volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League Final of 2001. A sumptuous hit, and it was in the biggest match a club can play, on the biggest stage.

Bergkamp against Argentina in the World Cup of 1998. Another on the biggest stage, and so wonderful you could watch it again and again.

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There are some goals on the list that certainly have their merits. Tony Adams with his effort against Everton –  a left foot volley – that capped our title triumph in 1998 and symbolised our Captain’s victory over his demons. The goal gives you chills and fully deserves a Top10 spot, but is only 11th. Henry’s goal against Liverpool in 2004, which left Jamie Carragher with twisted blood and also resurrected our title campaign, is rightfully high up in the list.

Looking through the list though, it is a case of goals cropping up in the memory that should be there, or indeed higher up, rather than thinking the compiled list is justified. It is what each reader perceives as errors that smack hard as you peruse the page.

A Top50 list was always going to be difficult, and there were always going to be readers who would take umbrage with the chosen. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of goals, that could be judged as worthy, but in terms of the boundaries mentioned above, there are absences in the Top50 that are criminal.

Michael Thomas and his iconic, you couldn’t write this script, winner at Anfield in 1989, comes in at sixth place.

This goal saw the underdogs come to the giants of European football at the time, and do the unthinkable. No team had gone to Anfield and won by two clear goals. To do it, snatch the title away from them, and in the very last minute of the game?

There is a reason there is a film that surrounds the events of that season, and in particular that brilliant, picture-perfect night in Liverpool. That reason means it should be, and forever, Number One in the list.

The list may be made up of opinion, and no opinion can be wrong – aside from any Gooner who decides that goal is lesser than any goal we have scored before or since.

 

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