It should have been the start of something beautiful, but it was beautiful enough itself.
Jack Wilshere’s opening goal against Norwich in October 2013 felt like the culmination of something special.
Sure we’d seen the Invincibles and a Champions League final appearance, but when Wilshere finished off possibly the most delicately precise one-two ever seen, the moment had arrived.
17 years in the making from Wenger’s landing in London back in 1996, ‘Wengerball’ had peaked with one of the game’s greatest ever team goals.
And if Wilshere’s 18th minute opener wasn’t enough, there was plenty more convincing evidence to come that top of the table Arsenal were the league’s new best team.
Record signing from Real Madrid, Mesut Ozil, kept the good times rolling, heading in a delightfully dinked Olivier Giroud cross, and a Norwich consolation barely dampened the mood.
Aaron Ramsey decided to make fun of the Canaries, selling two dummies that left three Norwich defenders with their faces in the grass, allowing him to slot home, before Ozil again expertly guided in a perfect assist, one-timing a Ramsey lay-off.
Ozil had arrived just a month earlier from the Spanish capital, in a move that felt like a turning point.
It was the first real occasion that the club had spent money since work began on the Emirates in 2004, shedding out £42.3million for the midfielder’s services, without having to finance the deal through sales.
Ozil’s arrival will forever be iconic for what it did to Arsenal fans on Sky Sports, but this was the moment he justified his decision to head to North London.
Much like Sergio Aguero’s choice of Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp’s pick of Liverpool, Ozil provided a boost that didn’t just take Arsenal to another level, but to the top of the table.
However, the German, who departed unceremoniously this summer, wasn’t even involved in the moment when everything came together.
Kieran Gibbs harmlessly carried the ball into Norwich’s half, offloading it to Santi Cazorla on the left touchline, and the Spaniard quickly decided it was time to get the party started.
Coming inside to find Wilshere, the ball was quickly returned to him, which he instantly sent to Giroud on the edge of the box.
The World Cup winner decided to have some fun with the pass, using his delightful touch to send it off the side of his boot and back to Wilshere first time.
Wilshere then decided to one-up the Frenchman’s extraordinary technique, flicking his left boot up while on the run, glancing the ball back to where it came from.
Not to be beaten, Giroud opted to keep the outside of his shoe warm, dinking the return through a four-man crowd of yellow, for Wilshere to deftly guide in the goal of his career.
Arsenal were top, and top in style, arriving at the summit earlier on match day five, they only momentarily lost their spot to Liverpool and City, who struggled to match the Gunners until February.
Liverpool though, did eventually match them, but they went much, much further than that.
A first half of hell crumbled Arsenal’s title challenge at the start of February, when Brendan Rodgers’ all-out attacking Reds managed four goals in just 20 minutes of action at Anfield, blowing the house down.
Arsenal had gone from what could have been the beginning of a new era under Wenger, to what soon became the beginning of the end.
A month later in March 2014 and just four points off the top, Arsenal looked to rekindle their title challenge against Chelsea, with Wenger’s 1000th game the perfect occasion to do it.
Along came Jose Mourinho though, utterly humiliating Wenger with a 6-0 destruction at Stamford Bridge.
Despite an FA Cup to end the season and two more in the following three years, things were never quite the same for Wenger’s Arsenal, with that moment of perfection from Wilshere a distant memory of a missed opportunity.
Arsenal play Norwich again on Saturday, unrecognisable from the side that scored one of the sport’s greatest ever team goals, bottom of the table and severely lacking in direction.
Arteta who played in that October fixture now manages the side, and may soon be out of a job.
His partner in midfield that day, Jack Wilshere, has been offered to train with the club as an injury-plagued career winds down to an underwhelming end.
If the former England international does head back to London Colney in an attempt to kick start his career, he may only serve as a reminder of what could have been, and that the highs of October 2013 should forever exist as a pinnacle for the club to aspire back to.
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