This post was written prior to the events of Tuesday night

Olivier Giroud scored the goal of the season on Sunday evening.

Okay, yes, it’s a big call; but it is one that I feel entirely confident in making.

Only the usual wind up merchants, Sid Lowe and – of course – Manchester United fans are going to argue with that. Well, apart from Gary Neville, that is. Once he had recovered from his latest Nevillegasm, he remarked that you had to say Giroud’s goal was better than Mkhitaryan’s recent effort.

His ultimate judgement though, as he watched a replay of the goal, was,

“Oh my gosh, what is that?”

It’s that reaction which interests me more.

I mean this was a man who played for a great Manchester United side for years. He also shared a pitch with Thierry Henry on more than one occasion and yet…

All of us, when we are kids (or adults) attach ourselves to our teams for various reasons. They’re local, your dad supports them or in my case, my uncle and granddad supports them, or you’re a big fat gloryhunter. That’s why you choose a team.

But all of us watch football, or sport in general, for a moment of transcendence. Something to take you out of the humdrum, something which makes you realise that – no, actually, you couldn’t do this for a living.  

Obviously, they don’t come around very often, these moments. But when they do…

That’s what made Diego Maradona so special. It’s why I love Ronnie O’Sullivan so much. It’s why the Invincibles will remain revered for all time, especially by us, but not by Manchester United fans.

Maradona, O’Sullivan, the Arsenal team of 2003-04 all produced their own moments that made you ask, “Oh my gosh, what is that?” Or a variation of that theme. 

Of course, Maradona had two of those moments in one World Cup match over 30 years ago against England. One was illegal, the other is probably the greatest goal I have ever seen in my lifetime. So good, in fact, that it almost made you forget about the cheating which preceded it.


I’m not including it here, you can look it up if you haven’t seen it. You should look it up. It was transcendent.

As for Ronnie, this break – produced twenty years ago this April – is the moment everyone will remember long after he has hung up his queue for the last time. Transcendence.

The Arsenal Invincibles had more than a few moments during that season, Pires at Liverpool, Henry at home to both Manchester clubs and that humiliation of Leeds United. However, the game everyone will cite when they talk about that season, apart from Old Trafford, is the home game with Liverpool. On a Good Friday, Thierry Henry singlehandedly, transcendentally, brought Arsenal back from the dead.

“Oh my gosh, what is that?”

As the Neviller would undoubtedly have asked had he not still been engaged in his highly successful playing career.

To me, it’s not really important whether Giroud’s goal was better than Mkhitaryan’s or not.

What matters is that it happened at all.

That Arsenal went from Lucas Perez winning the ball just outside our box to Olivier Giroud putting it away in just thirteen seconds. That Giroud was involved in the beginning of the move before dashing over half the length of the pitch to backheel it over his own head on the volley and in off the bar. I mean, come on, just typing that highlights the ridiculousness of this goal to me.

Perez, Bellerin, Giroud, Xhaka, Iwobi, Sanchez and Giroud again.

Six Arsenal players, joined by nine touches in just under 13 seconds. The tenth touch saw these Arsenal players create a little piece of Arsenal history.

More than that, I suppose, it was a little piece of Arsenal magic.

It would be lovely if those rushing to say stupid things like Giroud was “lucky” (oh, hello, Jamie Redknapp!) could crawl back into their miserable little holes. But I don’t suppose they will anytime soon. Ultimately, there’s nothing you can do if someone’s default reaction to a moment like that is to cry “LUCK!”

Let them be a curmudgeon, it’s their loss.

I understand that, at times, the tribal nature of football makes it difficult for us all to enjoy something someone playing for some other team has done. Ultimately, though, as with any other great goal scored before it, we will remember this goal long after the reaction to it has been forgotten. 

I watched the game in Ireland on my mate Baxi’s iPad. As the television camera focused its gaze on a smiling Giroud at the start of the second half, Baxi remarked to me,

“He’s still pleased with himself, isn’t he?”

Well, I would be, I replied.

Baxi was pointing out to me, though, how incredible it was that a professional footballer could be delighted by their own skill. I think that’s the real point in all of this. It’s not just that Olivier created something that visibly shocked Arsenal fans watching in the stadium. It’s not just that, hundreds of miles away on the west coast of Ireland, three men crowded around an iPad leapt out of their seats in amazement. It’s not just that Gary Neville Nevillegasmed.

Well, it is that, all of it. It is also that Giroud knew that, in one moment, 16 minutes and 48 seconds into the first half, he had achieved transcendence. Don’t believe me? Watch it again.

“Oh my gosh, what is that?”