On this day in 2002 Bergkamp scored Arsenal’s most iconic goal
The Premier League has witnessed some spectacular goals since its inception in 1992. Arsenal have scored their fair share: Henry’s volleyed lob over Barthez, any number of Henry’s solo goals, Bergkamp’s finish against Leicester, Wilshere’s Norwich goal, Van Persie’s rocket at Charlton, Ramsey’s volley against Liverpool to name just a handful. However, in the 25 year history of the Premier League, and perhaps in the 131 year history of Arsenal, no goal has shown the technique, ingenuity, pulchritude and magic of Dennis Bergkamp’s strike against Newcastle 15 years ago today.
Whether you witnessed this moment of individual brilliance first hand or later through YouTube this goal is etched on the memories of all Gooners. The goal was voted as the best solo goal scored by an Arsenal player in the Premier League era by Arsenal supporters and demonstrated in a microcosm the creativity, flair and intelligence shown by the Dutchman during his 11 years with the Gunners.
The goal will be remembered by all for its audacity, precision and technique but it has additional significance for those watching the 2001/2002 season unfold. When Arsenal travelled to Tyneside to face Newcastle it was with an opportunity to draw level on points with league leaders Manchester United. In 2002 three points were not a forgone conclusion. In fact, most pundits believed Arsenal would lose this match.
Newcastle were a bona fide top four team in those days, had beaten Arsenal 3-1 at Highbury in the reverse fixture and were sat in second place. To make a difficult task harder the Gunners were carrying 11 injuries, were expected to be tired from their Champions League game against Bayer Leverkusen, Thierry Henry was sidelined and Alan Shearer had yet another 20-goal-season in his sights with Stepanovs and Luzhny the Arsenal defenders tasked with stopping him.
It was not going to be an easy night and Newcastle made it difficult from the first whistle. Arsenal needed a moment of magic to break the deadlock and turn the match in their favour having been under the cosh for the first 10 minutes. Enter Dennis Bergkamp.
In form from his sumptuous lob against Bayer Leverkusen, Dennis took his chance and created possibly the best goal the Premier League has ever seen. Patrick Vieira won back possession deep in the Arsenal half and fed the ball to Bergkamp who pushed it on to Pires on the left wing before making a run towards Newcastle’s box. Pires advanced down the flank before pinging a pass to Bergkamp. What happened next cannot be described with the justice the action deserves.
“I want the pass from Pires to my feet, but it comes behind me. It’s not what I expect, so I think: I need another idea here. I know the defender is stepping in and the pace of the ball can help me. Ten yards before the ball arrived I made my decision: I’m going to turn him.”
Dennis Bergkamp – Stillness and Speed
Bergkamp’s contribution wasn’t finished with that sublime goal. Later on, his pin-point free-kick allowed Sol Campbell to double the advantage and Arsenal went in two to the good at half time. They went on to see out the win comfortably and follow those vital three points up with 10 more consecutive wins to claim the title by seven points to complete the double.
“You will not see many goals like that, it was an unbelievable goal”
Bergkamp had already long etched his name into Arsenal lore but this goal extends beyond his hero status in Arsenal hearts. It was the standout moment of the 2001/2002 Premier League season and may never be topped.
Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan). Please check out the official NLIR Facebook page http://facebook.com/northlondonisredblog for news, views, freebies and more.
Don’t forget to tune into the funniest Arsenal podcast around “Goonersphere Podcast“
Advertise your business here! Click here for details .