If anything summed up the type of player Olivier Giroud has been since his arrival at Arsenal in 2012, it was the game against Crystal Palace. In the opening minutes of the game he failed to convert one of the easiest chances he'll ever have, but then later scored the harder chance; an opportunity where no one should have the right to find the net, especially in the manner he did it.
The former Montpellier man missed a chance from a matter of yards out early on, as he failed to divert the ball home from Nacho Monreal's ball across goal in the opening minutes. 'Here we go again' thought the Arsenal fans who have become so accustomed to seeing Alexis Sanchez score from those positions when playing up front this season.
However Giroud's unbelievable 'scorpion' kick goal signalled not only his significance to this team, but it proved to be a timely return to form when Arsenal seemingly needed it most, especially after netting against West Brom last time out too.
No one would have expected him to score just how he did against Palace though, flicking the ball with his trailing leg over Wayne Hennessey and in off the bar. Anything Henrikh Mkhitaryan can do, Giroud can do better it would seem.
Top five Arsenal goals under Wenger
As the ball found the net, with one of the most obscene ways to score a goal you are ever likely to see anywhere in the world, the questions were immediately raised; just how good was it? Where does it rank in terms of the best goals ever, and where does it sit as one of the best Arsenal goals?
The likes of Dennis Bergkamp spring to mind, as do the numerous goals from the great Thierry Henry, but for Arsene Wenger it was one of the best he's seen; "I don’t know [where it ranks], I’ve been spoilt in my career, because I’ve had many great players and many great strikers. That is certainly in the top five."
It is quite the statement from the Gunners boss who as he said, has had some great strikers down the years. If ever Giroud needed to prove people wrong after falling behind Sanchez in the striking pecking order, this goal has surely done that. Whether you think it was a fluke, or weather you think he meant it, it will go down as one of the most ridiculous goals.
In the 20 years Wenger has been at Arsenal he's seen some magical strikes, as he recalls some of the greats down the years, "I remember Bergkamp, Henry… these special goals, you know. Bergkamp at Leicester, at Newcastle. Thierry Henry against Real Madrid, against Liverpool - these kind of goals. Kanu at Chelsea!"
The quality of those goals are indeed amazing, the burst of pace at the Bernabeu from Henry as he raced clear of the defenders, and the classic 'Bergkamp flick' goal against Newcastle were full of brilliance. Giroud's goal was very different though, but in its own right equally stupendous. Wenger said, "It’s difficult for me not to forget goals in 20 years, when you score about 70/80 per year. By 20 [years] makes 1,600 goals - it’s difficult in a second to get the best five."
It can be argued that Giroud is one of the most underrated and under appreciated strikers in the Premier League. He is never going to be the 30 goal a season man that many fans have been crying out for, but for the fee that he arrived for you cannot complain at the amount of goals he's scored. Wenger praised his fellow Frenchman saying, "He [Giroud] brings the unexpected, and we all come to football to get the unexpected. People come to the games to see these kind of goals."
Like Bergkamp and Henry, they had the tendency to come out with something unexpected, albeit in a different way to Giroud, but it was a strike which Wenger said the following about; "that will be remembered as the Giroud goal that nobody will forget. Every striker is certainly remembered for one, two or three special goals - and that will certainly be with him forever."
It was a goal out of the ordinary, like something you rarely see. Mkhitaryan scored a stunning scorpion kick goal on Boxing Day and it was a strike that you'd likely see once a decade. However, scorpion kicks are like London buses it would seem. You wait ages for one, then two come along in quick succession, but it was the pure genius of the goal which caught Wenger's eye, "He transformed that goal into art - because of the surprise, because of the beauty of the movement and because of the efficiency."
The inventiveness of the goal, the pure audacity to even try and score like that was something else, it was a brilliant piece of improvisation to divert the ball goal bound from a cross that wasn't the best from Sanchez. Wenger said, "You cannot work on that in training. It’s just a reflex. I think it was an exceptional goal because it was at the end of a fantastic collective moment, which is what our game is about."
That collective moment the Arsenal boss is talking about was of course the fast flowing counter-attack that the Gunners created Giroud's goal from. In previous weeks they have struggled to find that quick and fluid style as they came unstuck against Everton and Manchester City. However the attacking performance against Palace, even if some big chances were missed, gives Arsenal fans hope again.
All Arsenal can do now is keep winning, to keep trying to build pressure on Chelsea before the two take on each other in February. It's key that Giroud is back and scoring goals, but it will be of equal importance that this quick style of place which Wenger says their game is all about, is maintained if they are to have any chance of winning the league this season.