This story first appeared in the November edition of the Arsenal Magazine.
JOURNALIST FOR THE PRESS ASSOCIATION
There are a few to choose from but I’d have to say that Laurent Koscielny’s overhead kick against Southampton might even be the best goal scored in the Premier League so far.
It was incredible to see Arsenal’s central defender, their captain on the day, score that goal. The team were 1-0 down after a Petr Cech own goal and were not playing very well, but then he had the audacity to try something like that – and he pulled it off too. It was special. Looking at the bigger picture, Arsenal were having a pretty poor start to the season. They lost on the opening day of the season against Liverpool, got a better result against Leicester, and a win against Watford, but then found themselves a goal down in a game which they would have expected to win.
For the defender to then do that, it showed a reaction and that Laurent can be a real leader of this team going forward. It’s not the only time he’s done it – he popped up at the right moment at Burnley too. I was going to choose that late winner, but it was a bit of a scuffle at the far post in the end. Koscielny’s really come to the fore with both his goals and defensive solidity, and that’s another reason why I think that Southampton goal is the best one Arsenal have scored so far.
I guess it was also special because of the unexpected nature of it. I know Laurent’s a more technical player than Per Mertesacker, but if Per had scored it, we would still be talking about it every day of the week. Even by Laurent’s high standards, though, I don’t think anyone expected him to be able to pull that off. Theo Walcott’s goal against Chelsea was a very good team goal and was a watershed moment for Theo too, but Arsenal needed a goal against Southampton and Koscielny was there to score it.
If it had been a tap-in, like Theo’s, it still would have been a crucial goal, but the fact a centre back was able to score a goal in that manner at 1-0 down made it a better goal as a complete package. There was almost a collective intake of breath inside the Emirates press box. The fans were going ballistic around us and, even though the journalists are impartial, everyone was appreciating what Laurent had done.
In fact, despite Santi Cazorla’s 90th-minute winner, Koscielny’s goal was the talking point in the press conference afterwards, and rightly so.
Arsenal fan and Editor of footballwhispers.com
Of our 23 strikes in all competitions so far this season (correct as of before the October international break), Theo Walcott’s team goal against Chelsea is my pick.
We’ve already had a few decent candidates to rival Theo’s one-touch masterclass in the opening months of 2016/17: Granit Xhaka’s two Scud missiles against Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and Mesut Ozil’s telepathic understanding with Alexis the third at Watford stand out.
But Theo’s was the kind of pure passing move that The Arsenal have become renowned for under Arsene Wenger, and what a fitting way to kick-start the boss’ 20th anniversary celebrations. is for The first-half Chelsea blitz was almost a carbon copy of the 3-0 win over Manchester United last season: two performances where we started in fifth gear and kept the pedal to the metal.
The slick passing and low cross from the right for Theo’s goal even bore a passing resemblance to Alexis’ opener against United. Fast forward 12 months and, with Alexis having already picked Gary Cahill’s pocket for the opener, the baying roar of ‘Arsenal, Arsenal...’ from the Clock End was matched only by the high energy on the field. The sheer class of Walcott’s goal aside, the fact that the new, ruthless Theo continued his fine start to the new season in a big game made it all the more pleasing.
As encouraging was the team’s ability to keep their cool after taking the lead and trusting that they could pick off an opponent who was on the ropes – admittedly, one of the poorest Chelsea sides to come to Emirates Stadium. Less than 60 seconds from the second goal hitting the back of the net, Theo had chased Eden Hazard back into the right-back position before sprinting the length of the field to get his head on a slightly overclubbed Alexis cross. But far from resting on his laurels, Walcott was on the move to start the second phase of the attack, coming in off the right flank to receive from Shkodran Mustafi before laying the ball short inside to Santi Cazorla.
From there, blink and you could have been watching Bergkamp and Kanu of old as Ozil and Alex Iwobi worked the kind of one-touch pinball passing that left even N’Golo Kante on the seat of his pants. But rather than just admire the Ozil and Iwobi show with the rest of the Emirates, Walcott and Hector Bellerin made a beeline for the penalty area, leaving Nemanja Matic and Hazard day-dreaming. Stealing in behind Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic, Bellerin raced on to Iwobi’s precision through ball before centring for Theo to steer home emphatically from eight yards out.
Watching the goal back on Arsenal Player later, Mike Sewell and Martin Hayes captured the moment in commentary: ‘The one-touch passing and movement: that’s what we do’.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.