What I mean is that Campbell scored from distance. 25 yards or so. There’s something to be said for having a go from there, if only once in a while. For as scintillating and satisfying as goals like Rosický’s against Sunderland or Wilshere’s against Norwich, goals that dart and dance among four or five players one-touching it through narrow slits of space before being tapped home, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional howitzer from outside the box. It’s not that we don’t have players who can do this—Podolski, of course, and Cazorla, are not shy about letting fly. It’s been said that Arsène discourages his players from taking shots from distance. Whether that’s true or not is for others to say. I’ve seen enough highlights and goals from the last 17 years or so to see that players aren’t gun-shy.
The reluctance or inability to shoot from distance may be an accidental by-product of our style, which sees us push forward with as many as eight players in the final third, in the process packing the opponent’s defenders into that same tight space, leaving us with a dense thicket of 16 or 18 players in and around the box. Finding a window through which to shoot in such settings might seem like a fool’s errand as the shot will inevitably be blocked or deflected, perhaps conceding possession for a quick counter-attack.
However, we’ve seen for ourselves as recently as the weekend that shooting through such a thicket is not impossible, as Sunderland’s Giaccherini sluiced his own shot through a half-dozen players to beat Szczesny. That thicket, just as much as it obstruct clear paths to goal, does the same to the keeper, who is left with little time to anticipate much less see a shot coming through that many players, not to mention deal with the swerves and dips such shots can take due to English or deflections. Such shots become dangerous in and of themselves, of course, as Giaccherini and Campbell have shown. Even if their success-rate is lower than shots from close-in, they can create second chances from those deflections, from the goalkeeper being forced to make a save, and from set-pieces that result.
If nothing else, it’s sometimes worthwhile to let fly from distance if only as a signal of intent, testing the keeper while announcing “we’re not simply going to pass it around until we find the perfect opportunity from 12 yards away.” Campbell, from considerable distance, beat a keeper widely (if not recently) touted as one of the best young keepers in the Prem. If a player of his still-nascent qualities can score from there, surely, some of our more-seasoned and skilled players can test other keepers from time to time. The goals that come may not come from the quintessential Arsenal oeuvre, but I seem to remember a fair number of famous goals coming from distance. One of the more-glorious sights in football, after all, is seeing that well-struck ball soaring over helpless defenders and just out of reach of a hapless keeper and yanking taut against the back of the net.
Have at it, boys.