This is a wonderful goal to watch but it is more than that. When I watch it I can’t help but feel that it sums up the second half of Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal.
The Gunners are in Europe (something 90% of professional teams on this continent can only dream of) but it is the second-class European competition where they are outplaying their opponents with their second team. Intimately involved are two old stars of the future that never quite arrived in Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere along with Olivier Giroud who cemented his place in the French national side only after perennial Wenger target, Karim Benzema, ruled himself out with his colourful personal life.
Red Star Belgrade put up a good fight for this game in October 2017 and made it out of the group with Arsenal but, by the time the latter played their first game in the next round, both Walcott and Giroud had departed with Wilshere out of contract at the end of the season and holding off on signing a new contract. Wenger shuffles his pack, good players move on and football watchers wondered whether he would ever bring the magic back in anything other than glimpses. We have our answer now!
The goal itself is at once sublime and ridiculous. It is the sort of move that children the following day would have tried to reproduce in the playground and the key to Arsenal’s worldwide appeal in the globally broadcast EPL.