Twenty-one Goals of the Season are in the books, leaving us with five beauties battling for the title of best ever. All of these efforts are worthy of topping the table but there can only be one winner…
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’
With all of the goals now ranked, feel free to tell me exactly why I am wrong in the comments section. If you’ve got a spare 5 minutes today you could do a lot worse than a YouTube stint watching and ranking these goals for yourself.
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)
9 – Trevor Sinclair (QPR vs Barnsley 96/97)
8 – Robin Van Persie (MAN UTD vs Aston Villa 12/13)
7 – Jamie Vardy (West Brom vs LEICESTER 17/18)
6– Matthew Le Tissier (Blackburn vs SOTON 94/95)
The Final Five
5 – Emre Can (Watford vs LIVERPOOL 16/17)
Everyone loves a bicycle kick. Seeing a striker rise a finish from a high cross from wide or an aerial cut back is one of football’s universal joys. This acrobatic effort from Emre Can is not different, but is far from your run-of-the-mill overhead.
The difficulty here comes in the angle of the assist. Lucas Leiva lifts a through ball, presumably looking to find the German international in stride. Dropping over his right shoulder, Can improvises athletically, using the momentum already on the pass to redirect the ball’s angle slightly in to the top corner of the Watford goal.
This is where the ‘could I do that in 10,000 tries?’ criteria comes in handy. I do not think I could even work out how to meet a ball above my right shoulder with my right foot. That is before even considering directing it anywhere, let alone on target. I feel that this goal has fallen slightly off the radar because it came in an otherwise forgettable late season game at Vicarage Road.
This goal is comparable with the two other overhead efforts on this list. In my opinion, this goal is the most technically difficult of the three. Trevor Sinclair finished from greater range, creating a goal from absolutely nothing along the way. Rooney vs Manchester City wins by a landslide in terms of context. Ordering the three therefore is tough but, following the order of my criteria, I am prioritising difficulty first. I am awarding Can the title of Best Bicycle Kick but he has to settle for fifth overall.
4 – Tony Yeboah (LEEDS vs Wimbledon 95/96)
If you do not enjoy watching this goal, you clearly do not enjoy football. Every kid who has ever kicked a ball in the park dreams of scoring this type of goal.
This screamer pits my two main criteria in two direct conflict. Yeboah never looked in full control of the ball as he bundled towards the edge of the Wimbledon area. He then unleashed an absolute rocket in off the underside of the crossbar. This was his second such strike of the season and this type of goal became ‘the Yeboah’ in every playground in England.
I am not sure there has ever been a footballer good enough to fire a 20 yarder in off the bar intentionally. Therefore, I have to presume there is a fair element of hit and hope to Yeboah’s strike. Usually I would use that to deduct points but the magic here is the pure power and aggression. Yeboah and his pair of wonder strikes remain iconic 23 years later. Few goals since have contained the raw brilliance of this stunner at Selhurst Park.
3 – Dennis Bergkamp (Newcastle vs ARSENAL 01/02)
A friend of mine is convinced that this goal is a fluke followed by a foul. Had almost anyone else scored this goal I may think he has a point, but it was Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutchman has already graced this list, demonstrating his outrageous level of ball control when winning the best goal crown in 97/98. Arsenal fans marvelled for years at his ability to manipulate a football. This has perhaps gone down the greatest first touch in Premier League history
This goal remains unique, a testament to the level of difficulty and intelligence involved. From a purely aesthetic perspective, it is a shame that the ball did not move another half a yard after Bergkamp’s spinning touch. The need to shrug (forcefully) off the floundering Nikos Dabizas adds an element of scruffiness to an otherwise sublime goal. However, maybe it is better that way. It symbolises Bergkamp the footballer perfectly. As shown in this spin, touch, barge and finish he was a player able to be magician, technician and bastard all at once. For some this would likely be a clear winner and I can fully understand why. For me, the Dutchman comes in at 3.
2 – Jack Wilshere (ARSENAL vs Norwich 13/14)
This is a beautiful goal. Peak Arsenal. The Gunners have long set the standard for eye-catching passing football in the Premier League. In recent years though, as is the case with this goal, their moments of brilliance have tended to come when the pressure is off. This goal would be remembered as an all-time classic had it been scored in key match, rather than a 4-1 cruise past Norwich at the Emirates.
Context aside though, this is a masterpiece. Goal scorer Wilshere is involved on numerous occasions as Arsenal slowly work the ball up field before exploding in to life with an intricate arrangement of one-touch passes. Santi Cazorla offers a graceful demonstration in how to change the pace of an attack. The final exchanges between Wilshere and Olivier Giroud are mesmerising. Wilshere rounds things off in suitable style with a casual volleyed pass in to the corner. On this occasion, a classy composed finish is more fitting than a rasper in to the top corner
This is undoubtedly a great goal, but (there is always a but), there is still one doubt in my mind. It is hard to be certain whether Wilshere’s sliced pass to Giroud, just before the final assist and finish, was intentional. I cannot help but wonder if he was actually trying to bring the ball in to his path to allow a run in on goal. On this occasion, though, it seems sensible to trust the skill of the Premier League footballer rather than the cynicism of this random bloke watching goals on YouTube.
This goal has to rank highly in my opinion. It offers something different to every other competitor on the list. Unlike with other ‘team goals’, Wilshere deserves to have his name attached to the effort having been so thoroughly pivotal in the build-up. Whilst perhaps not quite as emphatic, I would argue that this goal as a whole requires more skill than a long-range strike. For all of their recent struggles, Arsenal have provided us with some beautiful goals over the years. This may be the best of all. 26th and 2nd place for Mr Wilshere.
And the winner is…
1 – Paulo Di Canio (WEST HAM vs Wimbledon 99/00)
A box office footballer. Di Canio is famous for pushing referees, picking the ball up in front of an open goal and often playing on the brink of tears. Perhaps more than anything though he is remembered for his outstanding technical ability.
This is one of the most eye-catching goals on this list. The late Marc Vivien Foe starts the move with a fine switch of play to Trevor Sinclair. Four years on from winning the award himself, Sinclair earns an honourable mention for providing a beautiful long-range pass but really, Di Canio had no right to turn that pass in to assist.
The magic in this goal is that the Italian had plenty of time to think. He could see the ball coming a mile off and would have been fully aware of his extremely tight angle and distance from goal. Only a few players in Premier League history have had the swagger to consider attempting this type of finish. Combined with the arrogant finger wagging celebration, this is a truly iconic Goal of the Season.
This goal is nineteen years old and I still think of this type of scissor volley as the Di Canio. It is, obviously, an exceptionally difficult skill to pull off. Using my criteria;
- If I had 10,000 attempts to recreate this goal I am dubious whether I would manage a shot on target.
- It’s one of the coolest Premier League goals scored by one of the coolest Premier League players
- The combination of Fila boots, Fila kit and Dr Martens sponsor adds a touch of Premier League nostalgia
There are goals that failed to win Goal of the Season that could easily be argued the best ever in the competition. There are goals on this list that some will rate higher. But for me, in March 2000 at the old Boleyn Ground, Paulo Di Canio scored the Premier League ‘Goal of All Seasons.