Carl Jenkinson hasn't just waited all season for his first Arsenal goal. He hasn't just waited since signing his first Arsenal contract in July 2011. He has waited his whole life.
Jenkinson was raised an Arsenal fan. Speaking to Sam Wallace of The Independent earlier this season, Jenkinson said:
When Arsenal signed me it blew me away. It was all a bit of a blur. It was my dream. You always want to play for the club you support. It was just a big shock, more I was so happy that Arsenal had come in and wanted to sign me. There were other big clubs who were interested. None of them would have meant the same. When I knew Arsenal were interested there was only one place I wanted to go.
To score while wearing the colours of the team you support is every fan’s dream. Jenkinson has come close before. Last season, he thought he’d scored a crucial equaliser in the League Cup against Reading, only for the goal to be retrospectively awarded to Theo Walcott.
Against Norwich, the long wait came to an end. Jenkinson was afforded a relatively rare start at right-back, with Bacary Sagna shifting infield to cover for Per Mertesacker.
Jenkinson defended solidly throughout, but his big moment arrived at the other end of the field. Lukas Podolski’s cross-shot deflected into Jenkinson’s path, and he stabbed home an untidy effort to find the bottom corner.
This may have been a relatively meaningless match, but Jenkinson celebrated as if he’d scored the winner in a cup final. It plainly meant everything to him.
Jenkinson’s goal was one of several feel-good moments on an enjoyable final day of the season for Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring with a spectacular volley to take his Premier League tally for 2013/14 into double figures. It was his 15th goal in all competitions.
Arsenal were also able to afford run-outs to both Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby.
For Wilshere, a few minutes on the pitch was a timely boost ahead of Roy Hodgson’s England squad announcement.
For Diaby, the World Cup will certainly come too soon, but his brief cameo should provide him with encouragement as he seeks to continue his rehabilitation over the summer.
The day, however, belonged to Jenkinson: Arsenal’s fan on the field. In conversation with Wallace, he confided:
It is weird to think I was one of the supporters two years ago. When you are a fan, especially when you are young, you are so distant and you look upon the players like 'Wow'. I was playing for Charlton but from being a fan to becoming a player was a very short space of time. From looking at them as heroes and idols to becoming one of their team-mates. It was really strange at first. As time goes by, you just adapt.
On the evidence of Sunday’s game at Norwich, that adaptation is going rather well.