6 Goals to Define Arsenal's 2012
2012 was, on the whole, a year to forget for Arsenal fans. However, it was also a year that brought several goals that will live long in the memory.
Goals come to shape the footballing narrative. They're the moments knitted up with elation and despair, and there was plenty of both emotions in Arsenal's year.
Here are half a dozen strikes which will come to define Arsenal's 2012 in the history books.
Thierry Henry vs. Leeds, Emirates Stadium, 9 January
Thierry Henry celebrates against Leeds
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Arsenal's 2012 began with a moment of pure joy. Thierry Henry's return to the club on loan from New York Red Bulls had given the entire club a lift, but there was still plenty of doubt about his ability to contribute on the field.
That doubt evaporated within minutes of Henry taking the field again. An FA Cup third-round tie with Leeds was locked at 0-0 when the Frenchman was introduced as a late substitute to a standing ovation.
That roar was topped shortly afterwards, when he collected a pass from Alex Song, opened up his body and curled the ball in to the far corner of the net in trademark style. It was a moment Arsenal fans will never forget.
Bacary Sagna vs. Tottenham, Emirates Stadium, 26 February
Sagna's goal helped propel Arsenal to third
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This goal was arguably the moment on which Arsenal's 2011-12 season hinged. Going into the game, the atmosphere at the ground was approaching toxic. Defeat would have sparked a revolt among the fans and threatened Arsene Wenger's position at the club.
It wasn't going well. Arsenal found themselves two goals down, with one of them having been scored by former fan favourite Emmanuel Adebayor, now plying his trade in the white of Tottenham Hotspur. It seemed that Spurs would win the day and the race for the Champions League.
Bacary Sagna, however, had other ideas. He got Arsenal back in to the game with a thumping header that seemed to contain with in it all the defiance of a man who just would not be beaten. Arsenal came back to win the game 5-2, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Robin van Persie vs. Liverpool, Anfield, 3 March
Arsenal fans won't forget RVP in a hurry
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It would be wrong to make a list of Arsenal goals in 2012 and not include one from Robin van Persie. Painful as it may be for Arsenal fans to admit, he came to define the year in many respects: in the first half, for his goals; in the second half, for his departure and notable absence.
His winner at Anfield was typical of his brilliance in 2011-12. It was assisted by a customary looped pass from Alex Song, and finished with a sumptuous left-footed volley inside Pepe Reina's near post. It was a vital three points for Arsenal, but it also stands as a reminder of the quality Arsenal lost this summer.
Yossi Benayoun vs. WBA, The Hawthorns, 13 May
Benayoun cemented his cult status against WBA
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Yossi Benayoun was already something of a cult hero at Arsenal for his role in the final day of the 2005-06 season and 'Lasagne-gate', scoring a goal for West Ham that helped ensure Arsenal made the Champions League ahead of Spurs.
When he was signed by Arsenal in a loan deal on transfer deadline day, it was met with a degree of skepticism by Arsenal fans. Benayoun's past with rival clubs and history of injury problems led supporters to doubt whether he had anything to offer.
As the season wore on, however, he became a crucial element in Arsenal's side. Fate had special plans for him on the final day, with a goal against West Brom ensuring he'll never be forgotten by Gooners everywhere.
Lukas Podolski vs. Liverpool, Anfield, 2 September
Podolski's goal gave Arsenal fans hope of a bright future
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This was Arsenal's first goal of the 2011-12 season, and it was an important one for several reasons. It was scored by Lukas Podolski—his first in an Arsenal shirt—and assisted by Santi Cazorla.
It was a goal made and finished by two players brought in to replace van Persie, and gave despondent Arsenal fans hope of a bright future without the Dutchman.
Whether those hopes will ever be realised remains to be seen...
Mikel Arteta vs. QPR, Emirates Stadium, 27 October
Arteta bundles the ball home against QPR
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This goal may seem an odd one to include given its scrappy nature: Mikel Arteta bundled the ball over in a manner more befitting of Stoke or West Ham than Arsene Wenger's Arsenal.
However, it was a crucial goal. Arsenal had just suffered defeats against Norwich and Schalke and badly needed the points to prevent their season from collapsing.
It also typified the Arsenal of 2012-13: willing, gutsy, but lacking the technical brilliance and attacking flair of previous seasons.
What do you think? What goals would you have included?