11 May 2014

Norwich 0-2 Arsenal: Jenkinson gets a pornogol!

Just when you thought a goal couldn't be more sublime, more stunning, more scintillating than the one that Jack Wilshere delivered against Norwich back in October, along comes no less than Carl Jenkinson to go one better. In a sequence similar to the one that saw Cazorla, Giroud, and Wilshere team up for a breath-taking sequence of touches, Jenkinson scored his first-ever goal for Arsenal and celebrated in a style befitting the moment. Okay, so it wasn't quite at the same level, coming as it did after Podolski's shot squibbed through a defender's legs before falling to Jenkinson's feet, and no, his finish may have lacked the cool nonchalance of Wilsheres, butdammit—he scored. Carl Jenkinson, he of the left foot that's good for little more than standing on, scored. Anyone who tells you it matters little in a match in which both squads' positions were settled and that the goal therefore doesn't matter in the grand scheme can take a flying leap.

They're the kind of people who, when sitting next to you as you're about to stuff your face with something gooey, delectable, and loaded with calories ask (in a voice that clearly indicates that it's not a question forthcoming but an accusation, indictment, and verdict), "are you really going to eat that?" Prigs. There's a special place in hell for the likes of them, and it's full of overcooked broccoli and joyless, dispassionate music, the kind that you can only clap for politely when it's over.

We'll have none of that here, thank you very much. Carl's goal may have lacked the nuanced beauty of Wilshere's, and it may have had little impact on our season or even the match in which it occurred, but this here is an Arsenal man through and through. His celebration tells you all that you need to know about why the goal matters. The man is exultant. Overcome. Orgasmic. What the finish itself lacked for style, the follow-up delivered for passion. On his face is pure joy, divested entirely from how the goal might actually matter. It's an everyman's goal. When each of us dreams of playing for Arsenal, dreams of scoring for Arsenal, we probably conjure up something more similar to Ramsey's coolly delivered volley, or Wilshere's pornogol. The reality is much closer to Jenkinson's. For the vast majority of us, if some bizarre series of unfortunate events led to us getting a call-up, this the goal we would score.

So much the better, I say. Who among us could deliver a volley like Ramsey's or a perfectly-weighted pass like Özil? No one, unless they're lying or lucky—and, by lucky, I mean that they got three wishes, used each wish to wish for 1,000 more wishes, then condensed those 3,000 into one wish again, and wished for the ability to score or pass like that.

If I'm implying that Jenkinson himself may lack the quality to play in this squad—after all, I'm equating him with the rest of us—so be it. There are open and nagging questions about his ability to play for Arsenal. Some will seize on those questions to nag and gnaw away. I prefer to see it as a potential break-through. He's come close on a number of occasions only to see other, more-illustrious teammates seize the moment. For him to finally make good on offense is a good thing even if he's still a bit raw. At 22, he's made just 47 appearances for Arsenal and is only a few years removed from League One play. There's room to grow. The fall-off from Sagna to him is of course massive, and one measly goal does little to close that gap, but its timing could hardly be better. With the FA Cup final to play, Jenkinson should see the opportunity that presents itself. Yes, he's scored, but there's more to being a right-back than scoring, of course. He's made the most of his chance on the day. Can he use the summer to prove that there's more to him than that? The possibilities for inspiration and motivation know no end.

For whoever we might sign—let's be clear, we're going to need two right-backs, no matter how much Jenkinson develops over the summer—Jenkinson knows and is Arsenal. He's followed the club since he was a lad, and he's made good on a childhood dream that many of us share. He might not ever become the kind of right-back that we'll remember through the ages, but, for this one, brief moment, he's shown us what it's like to live the dream.