Football

Wenger: Giroud transformed that goal into art

Who is the true scorpion king - Mkhitaryan or Giroud?

If Henrikh Mkhitaryan can do it, so can I.

Olivier Giroud scored with a superb, improvised backheeled volley as Arsenal eased past struggling Crystal Palace with a 2-0 win that helped them kept them nine points behind leaders Chelsea.

The France international produced a flying scorpion-like flick with his left heel to convert Alexis Sanchez's cross while tumbling forward following an Arsenal counter-attack.

It was uncannily similar to Henrikh Mkhitaryan's goal for Manchester United against Sunderland on Boxing Day and had pundits and fans discussing its credentials as a Goal-of-the- Season contender.

"It is not difficult to say it is the best one," Giroud told BBC Sport. "I was a bit lucky, but it was the only thing I could do, the ball was behind me and I tried to hit it with a backheel.

"Maybe (Henrikh Mkhitaryan's) goal inspired me, it's the only thing you can do in that position.

"It is nice for me and the team because we start the year with a win.

"We were struggling a bit when we came back from the dressing room so it was nice to finish off the game and keep the ball.

Giroud’s is higher and probably more difficult than Mkhitaryan’s. That one was incredible, but this is frightening.Ex-Man United defender Gary Neville on Giroud’s scorpion-kick goal

VISIT CHELSEA

"We have a few games to come before the very important Chelsea one (on Feb 4), so we want to to keep winning before we go to Stamford Bridge."

There’s no one else up there with him and he’s trying to get it goal-bound. He’s improvised and it’s a spectacular goal.Former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness on Giroud’s strike

For Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, Giroud's finish ranks among the top five Arsenal goals he has witnessed during his time as manager, rivalling the finest scored by club greats Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie.

"He transformed that goal into art," said Wenger.

"Art, because of the surprise, because of the beauty of the movement; the efficiency of the movement.

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    Olivier Giroud has scored eight goals in his past six starts for Arsenal in all competitions.

"The involvement of Giroud from the start of the move pleased me; it's a team goal with a surprising individual brilliance, like ballet.

"That will be remembered as the Giroud goal that nobody will forget.

"Every striker is remembered for one or two or three special goals, and that will certainly remain with him forever.

"People come to games to see these kind of goals.

"I've been spoilt in my career because I've had many great players and many great strikers, and that is certainly in the top five (goals from an Arsenal player)."

Asked of the others in his top five, the Frenchman responded: "I remember Bergkamp, Henry, with special goals. Bergkamp at Leicester, Newcastle; Henry at Real Madrid, against Liverpool. (Nwankwo) Kanu at Chelsea...

"It's difficult in a second to get the best five.

IMPORTANT GOALS

"Maybe what's not acknowledged by people, maybe even by me, is that Olivier scores important goals. He scored at Manchester United with a special header, against West Brom in the 86th minute."

Wenger revealed that Giroud does score some spectacular goals in training, but he had never seen him produce such a moment.

"In training, when he practises, he scores some spectacular goals, but I have never seen one like that," said Wenger.

"In 30 years, I have never seen such a goal, with such a high ball at the back; I don't remember."

Goalkeeper Petr Cech was as amazed as anyone by Giroud's stunning goal and said that it could already be the Goal of the Season.

"First, it's a very important goal because we needed to break them down and we needed to score," the Czech told Arsenal Player.

"When you score a Goal of the Year on the first day of the year, you put the bar really high!

"I always keep saying that he's one of those players whom you love to have in the team, because he's a handful and he can score important goals." - WIRE SERVICES

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