People are strange, as West Bromwich Albion midfielder James Morrison once sang. When one amazing thing happens, everybody enjoys it. But when a second similar, amazing thing happens, It doesn't simply double the amount of joy in the world; instead, everybody starts to argue about which was best.
At the end of December, Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored what's being called a scorpion kick against Sunderland. Then, on January 1st, Olivier Giroud scored what's also being a scorpion kick against Crystal Palace. Both were great (though neither was a scorpion kick, since the resemblance between Rene Higuita and a scorpion comes from the fact that the keeper went with both feet). And so, obviously, there's an argument to be had. Here's the good people at NBC doing just that.
There are enough differences for some sort of case to be made. Is Mkhitaryan's more difficult because he has to kind to flop to make his contact, or does Giroud's greater stretch make it a more remarkable feat? Does the fact that Mkhitaryan's goal was offside make it funnier or fundamentally flawed? Neither Palace nor Sunderland can defend, so we can ignore that. And do we factor in the prettier build up for Giroud's, or the fact that he came over all modest afterwards?
[Sanchez] gave me the ball a bit behind me, I tried to take it from behind me and I had maximum luck. It's just about luck, you know, I was not on good balance ... I try to deflect it in this position.
Then there's the problem that the fundamental aesthetic appeal of a goal that comes down off the crossbar has to be weighed against the fact that Giroud, much like the club he represents, is deeply annoying in a slightly diffuse, hard-to-pin-down sort of a way. Not a serious way, and certainly not in an important way. But still. All Arsenal players become Arsenal players eventually, and Giroud is no exception.
Perhaps this is just how sport has to work: what is football, after all, if not a continuously rolling investigation in who is the best at any given moment? At the risk of sounding like Arsene Wenger, why shouldn't that extend to aesthetic questions, as well as practical ones?
Still, if one thing wins then the other thing loses, and however you hedge the question — which amazing thing is the most amazing thing?!?!?! — there's something inherently dispiriting, even destructive about that. A break along club lines is probably to be expected, and given the dedication that Arsenal's online fanbase have to internet polling, we can probably assume that the Frenchman will take any prizes going. But in truth, and when all's said and done, and at the end of the day, and in the final balance ...
... Vincent Pericard's was better.