Arsenal lose it after deflected winner in October home game – ranking their goals by overcelebration

Matt Stead
Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli celebrates
Is that Jorginho *again*?!

Kai Havertz has made the top three for Arsenal overcelebrations this season. Jorginho and Martin Odegaard continue to lurk in the background of every goal.

Arsenal have encountered more problems with the Celebration Police this season as Detectives Neville and Keane have taken over the case from Sergeant Keys.

But is there cause for prosecution when it comes to those emotional Gunners? Let’s see how they have marked every single one of their goals in the 2023/24 season to find out.


23) Bukayo Saka v Fulham, Premier League, August 26
Saka calmly dispatches a penalty won by Fabio Vieira, sending Bernd Leno the wrong way in the process and equalising in the 70th minute.

It is a home game against non-elite opposition, a spot-kick and a goal which signals that there is still work to do. Arsenal have finally restored parity after more than an hour of trailing but they must find a winner.

The scorer chooses an acceptable method of celebration, almost breaking into a sprint to ensure he can retrieve the ball ahead of a frustrated Leno and place it back on the centre circle to restart play as quickly as possible.

Marks are lost, however, as a beaming Martin Odegaard gives Saka a shove in the back en route. A worrying display of emotion from any player; unforgivable coming from the captain.


22) Martin Odegaard v PSV, Champions League, September 20
A lovely hit from outside the area makes it 4-0 at home in the 70th minute.

The result has already long since been established so there is little jeopardy in terms of over-celebration. There is a slight margin for elaboration with it being Arsenal’s first Champions League game in six years and Odegaard’s first goal in the competition on his third start, as well as it underlining the sheer gulf in quality between the Premier League runners-up and Dutch champions.

Odegaard shows impeccable understanding of the situation by breaking into the single most casual jog ever committed to camera. Being pernickety, it would have been nice to see some firm, gentlemanly handshakes and far less smiling, but the Norwegian’s frustrating and regrettable sentimentality has been demonstrated by this point.


21) Martin Odegaard v Bournemouth, Premier League, September 30
The Norwegian casually rolls a penalty in to make it 2-0 just before half-time.

In almost as relaxed a fashion as the spot kick itself, Odegaard trots away from the scene and offers a few high fives as his team-mates assemble. Declan Rice looks very happy. You’ve got a job to do, fella.


20) Leandro Trossard v PSV, Champions League, September 20
From Saka’s cut-back, Trossard curls a first-time shot into the corner with ease to make it 2-0 in the 20th minute.

Simple enough, this one. The Belgian sticks his tongue out and wags a finger, which is veering dangerously towards the boundary of unacceptability. But ultimately he gets a pass as it’s his first Champions League game and goal and the Emirates is already a little giddy as that intoxicating whiff of Gazprom is in the north London air again.

The celebration is barely significant enough to warrant more than a cursory second on the highlights, put it that way.


19) Bukayo Saka v Bournemouth, Premier League, September 30
Jesus hits the post with a header and Saka is on hand to nod the rebound over the line after 17 minutes on the south coast.

The coward didn’t even pretend to lob a dart. Just jogs away and does the temple-pointing thing, then offers what might be a flagrant variation thereof as he taps his own goalscoring forehead. He’s learned his lesson and won’t be messing with James Maddison again.


18) Reiss Nelson v Brentford, Carabao Cup, September 27
Eddie Nketiah intercepts a poor back-pass and centres for Nelson to slide it past Mark Flekken after eight minutes.

Nelson blows some kisses in the vague direction of the travelling supporters before issuing a double high five to Emile Smith Rowe. Extra points for the Hale End synergy; points lost for not getting a can of flat Carabao out of his sock and downing it.


17) Gabriel Jesus v Lens, Champions League, October 3
After collecting a pass from Saka, Jesus beats one defender and fires a low shot in off the far post.

It’s broadly fine from Jesus, who points at someone – possibly in the stands – before doing his trademark telephone celebration, half-punching the arm and accumulating high fives and hugs near the corner flag.

Odegaard is first on the scene, having seemingly cupped his right ear after Jesus scored. That is worrying if so and it is our duty to recklessly speculate as such. Was it a response to the raucous atmosphere in France? Was it denote him answering the phone to Jesus? It’s impossible to say but it’s also easy to see why Arsenal went on to suffer their first defeat of the season as a direct consequence.


16) Eddie Nketiah v Nottingham Forest, Premier League, August 12
After a glorious roulette assist between two players from Gabriel Martinelli, Nketiah opens the scoring at the Emirates with a deflected strike in the 26th minute.

The striker gently jogs away with outstretched arms before pointing a few times at the ground. It is a little too flamboyant in truth but it being Arsenal’s first goal of the season – when spirits were high, the positivity was tangible and no-one particularly cared what the back-up keeper made of it all – affords Nketiah more leeway than usual. Just don’t make a habit of it.


15) Bukayo Saka v PSV, Champions League, September 20
Back to that wonderful Champions League return again, and Saka kicks Arsenal off by following up Odegaard’s saved shot to score in the eighth minute.

An airplane into a gentle knee slide towards the corner flag is broadly fine when marking the first Champions League goal of one’s career. Yet it is Odegaard again who undermines everything with his own knee slide to join his teammate. Absolutely not having that. The only acceptable response from a Premier League captain after a goal is scored in Europe is to maybe high five a few players on the way back to your own half, but only ever if they’re in your direct line of travel.

Think Roy Keane against Juventus. And no, it doesn’t matter if you’re the one who has scored, nor what stage the tie is at or if you’re suspended for the next game and have to show just how selfless a leader you are. You’re the captain. It’s your job.


14) Martin Odegaard v Crystal Palace, Premier League, August 21
The deadlock is broken in a tough game at Selhurst Park as Odegaard converts a penalty won by Nketiah shortly before the hour mark.

This is a little bit more like it from Odegaard. The Norwegian ambles towards the Arsenal fans with arms outstretched before pulling at the badge on his shirt. This transitions seamlessly into a backwards jog to embrace his teammates, with a high five for Saka.

Those two clearly have work to do to contain themselves but Selhurst Park is a tough place to go – even if the actual numbers suggest otherwise – so they can have this one. But honestly, rein it in a little.


13) Benjamin White v Bournemouth, Premier League, September 30
A lovely header completes the most routine of victories.

White does not watch football so obviously has no idea what to do. Gabriel is on hand to help once again, aggressively piggy-backing and then grappling with his defensive partner as if marking at a corner.

Takehiro Tomiyasu, Jesus and Jorginho all simultaneously raise their arms in suspiciously choreographed joy.


12) Gabriel Jesus v PSV, Champions League, September 20
Trossard’s cross finds Jesus at the back post; the Brazilian controls the ball and fires it high into the far top corner to make it 3-0.

There’s the knee slide towards the corner flag again. This one switches nicely into Jesus sitting down and doing his trademark telephone celebration with both hands, which makes less sense the more you think about it. This isn’t Wall Street, mate.

The elation at drawing level with Claudio Pizarro on 21 Champions League goals would be understandable if Jesus wasn’t representing Arsenal; as it is, this is clearly another concerning indication of one of their more experienced players getting swept up and carried away.


11) Cristian Romero (own goal) v Spurs, Premier League, September 24
The Spurs defender deflects a Saka shot into his own net via his big, daft Argentinean knee.

No, no, no, no, no. It’s the 26th minute. It’s the opening goal. It’s the north London derby. Yet Saka is mimicking the celebration of not only a rival player, but a player on the other team? And after a deflected goal? And it’s not that good a celebration to begin with?

This is basic stuff. There’s tempting fate and then there’s this. Throwing a pretend dart at the camera after scoring at home against Spurs with more than an hour to play? There’s a despicable element of pre-planning to it, but also an indefensible implication: that Saka is friends, or at least friendly, with one of their most bitter enemy’s stars.

The Dubious Goals Panel soon sorted Saka out but the Debatable Celebrations Council wants a word too. Hubristic nonsense.

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal celebrates their side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal celebrates after their side’s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.


10) Leandro Trossard v Everton, Premier League, September 17
A well-worked corner routine is finished brilliantly by Trossard to make it 1-0 at Goodison Park in the 69th minute. Nice.

It’s Everton away, it’s Sean Dyche and it has been interminably infuriating up to this point so the emotional release upon finally scoring is fair enough. Another knee slide – Arsenal clearly bloody love them – from Trossard is followed by some notably aggressive physical contact between the Belgian, Saka and William Saliba.

Odegaard is the voice of reason. Much better from him, this. The Norwegian comes over with arms outstretched to let all three of his teammates know it’s okay to have these feelings, that it’s healthy to let it out instead of bottling things up, that they should stop listening to Andrew Tate and Laurence Fox. There is no place for such toxic masculinity in 2023.

Trossard genuinely looks furious so he really does need that chat.


9) Martin Odegaard v Manchester United, Premier League, September 3
Within 35 seconds of kick-off after Marcus Rashford’s goal, Odegaard finishes a fine team move to equalise in the 28th minute at the Emirates.

Odegaard strides over to the jubilant fans in the Clock End, pointing at his badge before leaping into and punching the air.

Showing his elite scanning instincts, the Norwegian then drops a shoulder to leave Rice and Saka completely stranded. The pair try to redeem themselves by playing up to the supporters in the stands but they were exposed there and everyone knows it.

Odegaard only takes a few moments to bask in the glory before issuing his teammates back to resume play. He is the one being let down for once here.


8) Bukayo Saka v Nottingham Forest, Premier League, August 12
A delightful individual effort from Saka as he cuts inside and curls one into the top corner to make it 2-0 in the 32nd minute.

Saka can be afforded a degree of tolerance here for the sheer excellence of the goal. And again, those key factors of it being the first game of the season in front of an excited home support must be taken into account.

To that point, the England international briefly sticks his tongue out before touching his mouth, then the badge. Lovely. Saka begins a corner flag congregation, taking a few seconds to appreciate the adulation.

Some might feel it’s a little too indulgent. But the real problem here, for once, is Kai Havertz. A head-in-hands reaction for a goal to make it 2-0 at home after half an hour against Nottingham Forest? Non-elite mentality.


7) Eddie Nketiah v Fulham, Premier League, August 26
Two minutes after Saka’s penalty equaliser, Nketiah puts Arsenal in front with a fine finish from Vieira’s centre.

Completing a deserved comeback at home means Arsenal have to be cut some slack here if necessary. But actually Nketiah is fairly cool in the circumstances, pointing to his right and then left ear to signify something presumably incredibly poignant, as every teammate runs over to join him.

Actually, Vieira is the exception to that: he stands and looks around the stadium to see if anyone wants to appreciate his wonderful assist. It’s an under-celebration if anything. Give him the captain’s armband and make him manager.

But someone has to ruin it. As Nketiah moves towards the fans in the corner, Jorginho is somehow the first teammate to join him despite being the furthest away of three substitutes getting ready on the touchline. The Italian jumps into Nketiah before tugging the back of his shirt in some weird sort of tactical foul tribute.

A Euros and Champions League winner should know better.


6) Declan Rice v Manchester United, Premier League, September 3
In the sixth minute of stoppage time, Rice is found at the back post from a corner and his effort is deflected in off Jonny Evans to make it 2-1 at the Emirates.

The opponent and occasion requires something grander than a couple of fist bumps. That much is clear. Rice sprints away, knee slides because obviously, and then leads his teammates in being slowly consumed by the delirious fans in that particular corner of the stadium.

Why does it rank so highly in the over-celebrating stakes? Because not only is Jorginho the substitute there first on the scene again in his bright orange bib, but he repeats the trick of failing to properly stop the scorer before having to jump on him. Rice just shrugs off the challenge. It’s a growing issue Mikel Arteta has to sort at some point.


5) Gabriel Jesus v Manchester United, Premier League, September 3
In the 11th minute of stoppage time, Jesus puts Jonny Evans on the floor with a dummy before beating Andre Onana to make it 3-1 at the Emirates.

Jesus cups his ear. Numerous players, either unused substitutes or those who have already been taken off, encroach on the pitch. Arteta embraces his coaching staff.

These are professionals. There’s a job to do. The title could be decided on goal difference. The opponent is wounded. Stop messing about and put them to the sword. Typical soft Arsenal. Wouldn’t get this with Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams.


4) Gabriel Martinelli v Manchester City, Premier League, October 8
After locking the champions down at one end, Arsenal find a breakthrough at the other as Thomas Partey, Tomiyasu and Havertz combine to allow Martinelli to score an 86th-minute winner via Nathan Ake’s head.

Deflected goal, is it? Pathetic.

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3) Kai Havertz v Bournemouth, Premier League, September 30
Odegaard wins a second-half penalty at 2-0 up and uses his authority as captain to hand Havertz a penalty the German converts for his first Arsenal goal.

Havertz himself barely even celebrates at all. His reaction is one of relief, not elation. He is far from the issue here, essentially continuing a stuttered run-up to mark what is hoped will be a confidence boost and turning point.

But it immediately becomes apparent that Havertz will not be able to keep this one low key. He can invade all the space he wants but everyone’s favourite Raumdeuter suddenly finds himself marked by six different players.

Oleksandr Zinchenko is first with an arm around the shoulder and pat on the chest. Gabriel was dutifully stood further back, off-camera as the penalty was taken, yet he breaks into enough of a sprint to arrive second by jumping onto everyone. Nketiah offers a lazy leap into the crowd of his own. Havertz just looks quite uncomfortable with what is ostensibly utter jubilation at going 3-0 up inside an hour at winless Bournemouth.


2) Bukayo Saka v Spurs, Premier League, September 24
A confident penalty puts Arsenal 2-1 ahead in the 54th minute.

Knee slide. Box ticked. Feels like the kind of thing a talkSPORT pundit on a quiet day will eventually complain could cause serious injury but it’s clearly something being worked on at London Colney and it sums up this sorry club.

Saka gets straight back up to embrace the fans but then repeats the darts celebration, like someone retelling a joke because no-one laughed the first time. A real shame.

It sparked the season’s first proper Arsenal over-celebration narrative as Spurs equalised again a minute later.

Keane waded in with a pitch-perfect: “When there are 28 staff hugging each other, and the bus driver and the chef, you think ‘hold on a second’.” Absolutely no notes.

Gary Neville banged a drum he has been playing successfully for about a year, saying: “I don’t want to get caught up in an Arsenal over-celebrating thing and argument here but when that goal went in from Saka they all went to that corner. There’s a job to do, they had to concentrate and switch on and focus. They got caught straight away from kick-off. I don’t think it was the time to over-celebrate in that corner. It was the time to get back to the halfway line and recognise that this game was far from finished.”

At least Jorginho didn’t try and tackle anyone. Probably should have tried that when he encountered Maddison a few seconds later, like.


1) Leandro Trossard v Manchester City, Community Shield, August 6
Trossard equalises in the 11th minute of stoppage time at Wembley with a deflected effort.

The Belgian jumps up and punches the air, then chest-bumps Saka as other players surround them. Arteta pumps his fists.

It’s the Community Shield. Don’t care if it’s deep into stoppage time. Don’t care if it’s Wembley. Don’t care if it’s Manchester City. It’s the Community Shield. The Glorified Friendly. Sir Alex Ferguson never cared about it so anything more than a single respectful pat on the back for the scorer is inexcusable. And that’s being generous considering it was deflected.

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