09 May 2014

Will Wilshere return to score another wonder-goal against Norwich?

We're all thinking it. Somewhere, in the backs of our minds, maybe even deep in our loins, we sense it. Norwich. Wilshere. The goal. That goal. The one that saw three Gunners make eight touches before the ball danced its way into the back of the net as many as seven Canaries standing as if transfixed, hypnotized, mesmerized...it was a goal that epitomizes so much of what Wenger has preached in his time at Arsenal. The tight passing, the quick movement, the deft touches... the goal was so stunning from beginning to end that many among us didn't even realize what had happened until after the fact. The entire sequence, from the moment that Cazorla makes the pass to Wilshere to the moment that Wilshere receives Giroud's flick, takes no more than three seconds, four at most, but it's become one of the most memorable and stunning sequences I've ever seen. With suggestions from Arsène that Wilshere might be available for Sunday, could we see a pornogol sequel?

To be honest, no. As breath-taking as that sequence was, it may have been a once-in-a-lifetime event. Rarely will you ever see such a symphony of touches culminate in a goal. There's just too much that has to go just right. Three heel-flicks in a row? Are you kidding me? That wasn't football. That was a work of art. We've come close to replicating it on a number of occasions (Rosicky against Sunderland, any number of attempts against Newcastle...), but it might be too much to ask of the lads to deliver such an opus again. If anything Norwich will do dig in and do their best to deny us any opportunity, defending deep, clogging the lanes, and otherwise making things difficult.

Then again, with little to play for, having been relegated, Norwich might play with an attitude that vacillates between blasé and devil-may-care, displaying a reckless abandon or nonchalance that might invite similarly scintillating scoring chances. Truth be told, neither squad has anything to play for. If anything, we might see a bit of a lacklustre match, with Arsène opting to rest a few key players ahead of the FA Cup final next weekend. On the other hand, players do need a bit of time on the pitch to find their rhythm, and if this means that Ramsey, Wilshere, Özil, and Cazorla can partner up, if only for a half, well, then, who's to complain? Norwich have limped towards the finish of the season, although they have put a scare into more than a few opponents of late, laboring to a draw against Chelsea (*cough*) and losing narrowly to Liverpool, so it would be a mistake to assume that we can simply stroll in and summon another masterpiece to match the one in October.

Without making too much of it, think back to the extended sequence: Wilshere collects the ball just outside our own box and drives up the pitch, finding Gibbs coming up the flank, who then plays forward to Cazorla. Cazorla jinks his way towards the middle of the pitch, and it's on. There was a mind-meld there, an unthinking, symbiotic awareness of each other that reached a pinnacle in that moment, and that awareness, just as much as any other element, was lost when injuries struck. It's no wonder, then, that the return of key players has breathed new life into the squad.

Sunday's match may not offer much in the way of drama, at least not in terms of the table or the title-chase, but it could very well offer a tantalizing appetizer for next season.