Cazorla. Wilshere. Cazorla. Giroud. Wilshere. Giroud. JACK WILSHERE!
“It’s certainly one of the top three I’ve seen”, was Arsene Wenger’s reaction to Jack Wilshere’s goal for Arsenal against Norwich City in a 4-1 win during the 2013/14 season (ESPN). And considering the plethora of intricate, beautifully crafted goals that Arsenal have scored during the Wenger era, from Patrick Vieira against Liverpool to Carlos Vela against Bolton, that is a real testament to how good the goal actually was.
The game was packed with a number of potential headline makers. New record signing Mesut Özil scored a classy brace; Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal’s best player of that season, slalomed past three Norwich defenders to score; and Arsenal were on top of the league. Yet, it was Wilshere’s goal that stole the show.
If you watch a compilation of Arsenal’s best team goals over the last six years, you will see Jack Wilshere involved in most of them. And in this one, he was at the heart of it all, with the play starting and ending with him. He picked up the ball at the edge of his own box, dribbled past a player in typical fashion and passed it down the wing to Kieran Gibbs, who found Santi Cazorla. Such is the ability of the little Spanish magician that the Norwich defender kept backing off in fear as he drove towards the goal. He passed the ball to Wilshere near the Norwich box, and what followed next was simply magical. In trademark style, Wilshere passed it back to Cazorla with the outside of his foot and burst towards the goal. Cazorla touched it towards Olivier Giroud, who flicked on to Wilshere. Wilshere flicked it back to Giroud with a back-heel, who returned it into Wilshere’s path with a dink. The finish too was perfect, as Wilshere placed a first-time volley with his weaker right foot into the bottom-left corner. It was like a game of pin-ball (Hughes, NESN). The Emirates erupted, the commentators were in disbelief, and the Norwich defenders were left scratching their heads, stunned at what just happened. In a matter of 5 seconds, they played 6 passes, slicing through the Norwich defense like a hot knife through butter, and scored. 5 seconds is all it took for Wilshere to win the 2013/14 Goal of the Season (BBC Sport).
The swagger and style with which Arsenal had been playing that season was epitomized by this goal. It did what Arsenal somehow always manage to do despite repeated seasons of disappointment – it gave Arsenal fans hope. But more than anything, this goal is a sign of what Arsenal have been missing for the last two and a half years – players of the caliber of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla. Despite the brilliance of Özil, Arsenal have looked lackluster without these two players. It can be argued that had Cazorla not been injured for majority of the last three seasons, Arsenal would have won the league at least once. But in truth, the absence of Wilshere compounded the problem. The team lacked drive and hunger, words that incidentally define the type of player Wilshere is. He too was injured for a long time, and then was shockingly loaned to Bournemouth last season. Had he been there, it would have softened the blow of losing Cazorla.
Unfortunately, by the time Cazorla returns, he will be 34 and nearing the end of his career. But Jack is back now, and he is the Mr. Arsenal that the Gunners have been looking for since Tony Adams. With his class, drive and passion, he is arguably the best and most deserving person to don the captain’s armband since Thierry Henry.
Having lost Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and with the impending departure of Arsene Wenger, it is a new era for Arsenal, and hopefully Super Jack is the one to lead us through it.
ESPN Staff. “Wenger: Wilshere goal in my top three ever.” ESPN.co.uk, 19 Oct. 2013, en.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/249337.html (accessed on February 1st, 2018)
Hughes, Luke. “Jack Wilshere Scores Incredible Goal After Arsenal Puts on Passing Clinic Against Norwich (GIF).” NESN.com, 20 Oct. 2013, 11:31 am, nesn.com/2013/10/arsenal-midfielder-jack-wilshire-scores-incredible-goal-after-team-puts-on-passing-clinic-video/ (accessed on February 1st, 2018)
“Jack Wilshere: Watch his 2013-14 goal of season for Arsenal against Norwich – BBC Sport.” BBC News, BBC, 30 Aug. 2016, www.bbc.com/sport/football/37224626