Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere was something of a surprise for the Match of the Day Goal of the Season award last night, taking the prize after a huge surge in Gunners fans votes.
(Video) Arsenal 4-1 West Brom Premier League Highlights: Theo Walcott hat-trick and Jack Wilshere stunner secure big win
Manchester United transfer news: LVG plots stunning £180.3m spree for Liverpool star & Gareth Bale
Arsenal goal videos
While no one can deny that it was a cracking strike from the England midfielder, who also won the prize last season for his team goal against Norwich City, it seems ridiculous that such a meaningless game should be a contender for the best goal of the season.
Of course, many will argue that context should not be important – that quality and quality alone matters. Still, when we talk about great goals we often talk about a goal that is in some way difficult to score, as in very few other players could have done it.
But as well as ability to pull a stunning solo effort out of the hat, it is also more difficult to score a great goal at an important time; when the pressure is on, that’s when the best players do their stuff; playing against better quality of opposition means you have to do something a bit more special, and to have the guts to try it.
West Brom were pitiful against Arsenal yesterday, going 4-0 down at half time, of which Wilshere’s goal was the third. With nothing riding on the game and a comfortable lead already established, why not have a go from the edge of the box? A more relaxed player will inevitably try more stuff and see it pay off if he has the talent.
Given these standards, it is hard to look beyond Juan Mata’s goal for Manchester United against Liverpool for the true Goal of the Season. With the score still at 1-0 at Anfield, the Spaniard improvised superbly to produce a majestic overhead kick to put the game beyond doubt. It proved to be the winner in a 2-1 victory for Louis van Gaal’s side, which started a strong winning run to enable them to finish above their bitter rivals and make the top four. A second season without Champions League football would have been unthinkable for United, and Mata stood up at just the right time with a beautiful strike to make sure the season was at least a small success.
There is a reason Wilshere has come in for so much criticism for not fulfilling his potential, and that’s because he simply doesn’t score these great goals at the vital time. If he’d done this in a big win over Manchester United or Chelsea, it would be deserving of Goal of the Season, but as it is it’s not far off a wondergoal in training – meaningless.