Olivier Giroud scored a stupendous “scorpion kick” volley as Arsenal climbed to third place in the Premier League table with a 2-0 New Year’s Day victory over Crystal Palace.
Giroud netted with a breathtaking improvised strike reminiscent of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s recent goal for Manchester United and Alex Iwobi was also on target at the Emirates Stadium yesterday.
A bashful Giroud told the BBC: “It is not difficult to say it is the best one. 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.”
Victory left Arsenal nine points below leaders Chelsea and they were joined in the top four by Tottenham Hotspur, who replaced Manchester City in the Champions League places after winning 4-1 at Watford.
Arsenal, who were without the ill Mesut Ozil, finish the weekend three points below second-place Liverpool, with north London rivals Spurs a point back, above City on goal difference.
Armenian midfielder Mkhitaryan advanced a strong claim to the Goal of the Season award in United’s 3-1 win over Sunderland on Boxing Day, only for Giroud to better his strike just six days later.
Sanchez’s cross was behind Giroud, but he adjusted brilliantly to hook the ball forward with his left heel, propelling it over Wayne Hennessey, off the bar and into the net.
Palace goalkeeper Hennessey described it as a “wonder goal” and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger concurred.
“I have been spoilt over the years with all the great strikers — (Dennis) Bergkamp, (Thierry) Henry,” he said.
“You remember them because they are linked with special goals. This will be the Giroud goal forever.”
Spurs run riot
Tottenham beat Watford in their second successive 4-1 win, having prevailed by the same scoreline at Southampton in mid-week, to rack up a fourth consecutive league victory.
Deputising for the suspended Kyle Walker at right-back, Kieran Trippier set up Harry Kane for Spurs’ first two goals at Vicarage Road.
His clever pass freed Kane to beat Heurelho Gomes at his near post in the 27th minute and six minutes later the former Burnley player’s cross was volleyed home by Kane at the back post.
Dele Alli had earlier hit the bar and he got on the score-sheet either side of half-time.
Alli pounced on Younes Kaboul’s mishit clearance to roll a shot into the bottom-right corner and then, after the change of ends, slipped the ball past Gomes from Kane’s right-wing cross.
Kaboul reduced the arrears in stoppage time, forcing the ball over the line from a free-kick, but the hosts did not celebrate.