The penultimate instalment of the Goal of All Seasons countdown takes us from 10th -6th. By this point, every goal is a genuine challenger for the title. I have these efforts battling it out for a Europa League spot but it really is a matter of taste.
To rank the goals, I have used a highly technical algorithm. My measures are as follows;
– ‘If I had 10,000 attempts to score that goal, how many times would I succeed?’
– ‘Did it look cool?’
– ‘Other ‘factors’ (context of goal, standard of kit/boots, celebration etc) to be used as tie-breakers’
As with every section, feel free to use the comments to tell me exactly why I am wrong!
The table so far:
26 – Jack Wilshere (ARSENAL vs West Brom 14/15)
25 – Thierry Henry (ARSENAL vs Spurs 02/03)
24 – Dietmar Hamann (LIVERPOOL vs Portsmouth 03/04)
23 – Wayne Rooney (MAN UTD vs M’Boro 04/05)
22 – Shaun Bartlett (CHARLTON vs Leicester 00/01)
21 – Maynor Figeuroa (Stoke vs WIGAN 09/10)
20 – Emmanuel Adebayor (Spurs vs ARSENAL 07/08)
19 – Steven Gerrard (LIVERPOOL vs West Ham 05/06
18 – Rod Wallace (LEEDS vs Spurs 93/94)
17 – Dennis Bergkamp (Leicester vs ARSENAL 97/98)
16 – Ryan Giggs (MAN UTD vs Arsenal 98/99)
15 – Glen Johnson (PORTSMOUTH vs Hull 08/09)
14 – Wayne Rooney (MAN UTD vs Bolton 06/07)
13 – Dalian Atkinson (ASTON VILLA vs Wimbledon 92/93)
12 – Wayne Rooney (MAN UTD vs Man City 10/11)
11 – Dele Alli (Crystal Palace vs SPURS 15/16)
10 – Papiss Cisse (Chelsea vs NEWCASTLE 11/12)
If found this goal the most difficult of all to place for one simple reason. I cannot decide if the ball ended up where Cisse intended it to go.
Part of me thinks this is one of the most incredible finishes in football history. If Cisse intentionally picked out the far side netting with this sliced finish, it is a work of art. It defies logic on every watch. If you pause the video at the point of impact it looks as though Cisse is about to drag the ball at least 20 yards wide of the left post. It ends up creeping inside the right. Amazing.
Yet I cannot help questioning the intent. I have a nagging feeling that perhaps Cisse saw an opening at Petr Cech’s near post and looked to exploit it. In this scenario he ended benefitted from a large ‘slice’ of luck as the ball spun faster and wider than he expected and in to the net.
Sometimes in these cases, the celebration provides evidence of intention. I was hoping to see Cisse race away with a shocked look on his face as if he knew this was a lucky one off. Instead, he casually jogs over to the crowd as if this was a training ground tap in before producing a nice little jig. If indeed he got lucky, Cisse certainly hid it well.
It was clearly a shot at goal from a highly ambitious position. Cisse clearly intended to cut across the ball and apply the sliced shape. It clearly ended up in the goal. So clearly, I am overthinking this. However, I have to put these goals in to order somehow. In the end, I am going to compromise. Fully intentional or not, Cisse’s ‘wow moment’ belongs inside the top 10. I’m just too cynical to let it win.
9 – Trevor Sinclair (QPR vs Barnsley 96/97)
An FA Cup cracker. This goal should never have happened. A pathetic cross from the right fails to find the penalty area and leaves Sinclair running away from goal with no opportunity to get a shot away. With the momentum of the attack gone, Sinclair acts on instinct. Even considering a 20 yard overhead kick is admirable.
This goal is great for nostalgia. 90s oversized shirt and boyband style mini dreadlocks add to the appeal. An early round FA Cup clash is not the most memorable of stages. The low-key context means this goal is not replayed regularly and is unlikely to be well known by younger generations. For kids growing up in the 90s though, an overhead kick briefly became a ‘Sinclair.’
Sinclair, quite understandably, is guilty of a touch of over-celebration suggesting he himself knew this was a one off. That should not detract from the difficulty. In respect to the audacity and athletic ability shown, I am happy to give this beauty a space in the top 10.
8 – Robin Van Persie (MAN UTD vs Aston Villa 12/13)
In the summer after City’s iconic Aguero moment, Man Utd raided Arsenal for Robin Van Persie. Few players can claim to have had as much individual influence on a title-winning season as the prolific Dutchman in 2012/13. This goal epitomises his campaign.
Wayne Rooney turns the Villa defence with an exquisite angled pass. Rather than take a touch, Van Persie sees a more efficient route to goal. Mixing power and accuracy, he meets the ball on the full, lacing a 20-yard volley across goal and in to the corner.
In 2016, this goal was voted ‘best goal in Premier League history’ by the players who have scored over 100 goals in the division. If you, for some reason, decide to trust their judgement rather than mine, I shall not be offended. It does not quite reach the same heights on my list but there is no disputing it is a gem.
Van Persie himself, on receiving his award, stated “With a goal like that you don’t even think about what will happen, just make the most of it and see what happens. It takes a bit of courage as you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Ranking these goals is almost impossible, so if a scorer suggests there may possibly have been an element of hit and hope involved, it leaves me an excuse to knock off a point or two. Possibly harshly, then, Van Persie finishes eighth. Ranked Just one place above him we find a very similar strike.
7 – Jamie Vardy (West Brom vs LEICESTER 17/18)
Our most recent goal combines a trademark pass, a fine run and an incredibly calm finish. The now disbanded Mahrez-Vardy combination is in perfect harmony here. This goal had not happened when Van Persie’s peers voted his volley the best ever, so I have at least some defence in ranking this higher.
Jamie Vardy has made a career from this type of run. The timing of the movement is a highly difficult skill in itself. Mahrez’ pass is fantastically accurate but leaves Vardy moving at full speed whilst watching over his left shoulder just to track the ball. To finish without even breaking stride takes an exceptional amount of ability.
Vardy looks at the bottom right corner at the exact moment he strikes the ball in that direction. The finish is smooth, perfectly in his stride and completely unstoppable. The pace was already on the through ball; Vardy concentrates on guiding it home. There is no way your average amateur striker would have had the chance to even attempt this finish, as Vardy’s run is that of an expert. It is hard to emphasise the difficulty of redirecting a long, straight, high through ball in to the far corner of the net. Vardy has no angle on the pass to work with and a defender right on his heels. Therefore, this beats Bartlett and Van Persie as my favourite of the three left footed first time volleys on this list.
6 – Matthew Le Tissier (Blackburn vs SOTON 94/95)
Surprisingly (disgracefully), Le Tissier only won this award once. Once. Jack Wilshere has won twice.
Anyway, this goal, vintage Le Tissier, involves a slow, somewhat pointless slalom between opponents before a 35-yard sidefoot in to the top left corner.
Le Tissier himself rates this as his best goal. There can be few higher accolades. For anyone too young to be familiar with the Southampton legend I strongly suggest you load YouTube immediately after reading this article.
The magic of Le Tiss is that it is genuinely debateable whether this was his best goal of the 94/95 season, let alone his career. He even scored another belter in the same game. A brace of Le Tissier wonder goals in a 3-2 Southampton defeat. Nothing could sum up my formative football obsessed years better.
The rare sight of applause from the opposing fans indicate this was a truly great goal. It is also worth noting the lack of celebration. There is no surprise on Le Tissier’s face. Everything about this goal went exactly as planned. I earlier marked Papiss Cisse down for questionable intent. This goal is the exact opposite. There has perhaps never been a Premier League player with such complete manipulation of a football.
Unfortunately, Tim Flowers does not bother to dive properly, reducing the beauty slightly. Alongside this, Le Tissier was wearing Quasar boos and a kit made by Pony. Those brands have no place inside a top five. The Guernsey-born great has to settle for sixth.