Game of Two Halves

Game of Two Halves - Goal debate

Journalist Jim van Wijk and photographer David Price address either side of this month's debate: Abou Diaby's goal against Derby against Robin van Persie's strike versus Everton. This article first featured in the December issue of Arsenal Magazine.


THIS MONTH’S DEBATE Which of the first 500 Premier League goals at Emirates Stadium was the best one?


Jim van Wijk is a national journalist and sports reporter for the Press Association. You can find him on Twitter as @jimvanwijkPA.

There are so many goals to choose from that it's difficult to pick one out, but if I were to be put on the spot, I would have to go for Robin van Persie's volley against Everton in 2011.

I've been at Emirates Stadium for probably 90 per cent of the goals scored there, and there are certainly a few that spring immediately to mind. There's obviously that famous team goal finished off by Jack Wilshere, against Norwich, which was a fantastic move, but you also have to consider the opposition it was scored against.

I quite like the one Wilshere scored against West Brom last season too, when he smashed it in from the edge of the area - an absolute rocket. There have been so many, that even this season you could point to a couple - Alexis and Mesut Ozil's goals against Manchester United for example.

But going back a bit, that Van Persie strike certainly sticks in the memory. He and Alex Song had that understanding at the time - Song would get the ball in midfield, look up and knock over the top for Van Persie to finish.

It dropped over his shoulder and he took it perfectly. It was one of those goals when you have to stop yourself getting out of your seat in the press box. It was a bit of a trademark finish for him. He caught it so sweetly that no goalkeeper could have saved it. It's similar to some of Thierry Henry's goals.

Everybody knew what he was going to do, but you still couldn’t stop it. Everyone knew Henry would collect the ball on the left, run on goal and curl it in, but nobody could do anything about it. The same with Van Persie's – as it was dropping you knew if he hit it, it was in. It was a great goal, but an important one too as it won the game, and generally those are the goals that remain most memorable.

I think as a reporter you tend to remember the important or dramatic goals more. In fact the strikes I remember are the last-minute ones when you have to re-write your copy! Nicklas Bendtner scored a very late winner, against Wolves I think, and it wasn't a great goal aesthetically, but it was very important at the time and that's why it's memorable.


Van Persie v Everton

Van Persie v Everton


They change the whole dynamic of the game. If you are including opposition goals too, then you have to mention the very first goal scored at Emirates, by Olof Mellberg for Aston Villa. It was a bit scrappy and you could even say that perhaps it set the tone for the sort of goal Arsenal concede at home!

But it's interesting that although there have been 500 league goals at Emirates, I still think the most memorable have been scored in other competitions. There was Arshavin's big goal against Barcelona in the Champions League - the whole of Emirates rose for that, and also Henry's comeback goal against Leeds in the FA Cup of course. One thing's for sure, you get value for money at the Emirates.


David Price has been working as a photographer for Arsenal since December 2002. Follow him on Twitter here: @priceyd101

It was really hard for me to pick a standout, mainly because there have been so many special goals scored at Emirates Stadium. Off the top of my head, I think I’ve missed three home matches here. I considered quite a few.

Everyone remembers Jack Wilshere putting the finishing touch to the goal of the season against Norwich City in 2013/14. I’m very fortunate to work pitchside, where you really get a feel of the pace at which the game is played at. What made Jack’s goal so good was the speed at which he, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud manoeuvred the ball around the Norwich defence.

"You can’t start celebrating when someone scores a last-minute winning goal because your focus is always on getting the best possible picture of it"

David Price

There was a similar goal, scored by Tomas Rosicky in that season, at home to Sunderland. That was on a similar level to Jack’s. The opposition just couldn’t deal with the speed and technical quality of the attack. I also really enjoyed Cesc Fabregas scoring straight from Tottenham’s kick off in a 2009 north London derby.

Then there was Mikel Arteta’s winner against Manchester City in 2012 - a crucial goal at a crucial time. Then there have been so many nearly moments, shots that have hit the frame of the goal or drawn superb saves from opposition goalkeepers. The one that really stands out was Olivier Giroud against Everton in 2013.

It was the last minute of the game, we had just conceded an equaliser and he smacked a shot against the bar from about 30 yards - I had the perfect picture of it too! In the end, I decided on a goal scored by Abou Diaby against Derby County in 2007. He received the ball on the left, just outside the area, cut inside and hit an absolute rocket that was still rising when it hit the top corner.

Those goals always look great stylistically and what made it even better was the element of surprise. When Abou came inside, you just expected him to play a pass to a team-mate. Instead, he hammered the ball right into the stanchion.


Abou Diaby goal

Abou Diaby goal


Maybe some people don’t remember it because it wasn’t a matchwinning goal, but with Arsenal winning the game 5-0, it definitely set the tone. In terms of opposition goals, Wayne Rooney has a habit of scoring here in the league. Finally, no matter how good - or how important - an Arsenal goal is, my focus is always on making sure that I do my job right.

You can’t start celebrating when someone scores a last-minute winning goal because your focus is always on getting the best possible picture of it and of the celebrations that follow. If it’s a particularly vital goal, you might have a little moment to enjoy it after the game.

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