The second instalment of the Premier League Goal of All Seasons countdown takes us from positions 20-16. These efforts find themselves safe from relegation but not able to mount a serious European challenge.
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 the 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)
20th – Emmanuel Adebayor (Spurs vs ARSENAL 07/08)
A derby day blast at the home of the enemy. If Adebayor hadn’t decided to go full pitch sprinting to taunt Arsenal fans a few years later, this goal would likely be remembered as one of the North London classics.
There will always be a place in football for a really hard kick. We have lived through the age of tiki-taka and Panenka penalties. The English game has become far more stylish than the long ball age of yore. Despite this, there is still no better way to beat a keeper from range than with a good old-fashioned smash.
I am very skeptical that the first touch here was meant to sit up at perfect volley height. The ball from Cesc Fabregas came bouncing in and I imagine Adebayor was looking to bring it under control and out of his feet. Whatever the case, you can’t help but admire the finish. Quick thinking combined with athleticism allowed the Togolese striker to wrap his foot around the ball, bringing it back across Paul Robinson and arrowing into the top corner. This kind of goal that makes you shout strange noises at the TV. Especially when it comes on derby day.
If the flick up volley appeals to you it would be worth checking out Patrick Berger vs Charlton, Matt Le Tissier vs Wimbledon and of course Thierry Henry vs Man United. Ranking these belters could become a sub-list of its own. For now, though, Adebayor scores highly for style and occasion but doesn’t reach the upper levels for technical difficulty amongst such esteemed company.
19th – Steven Gerrard (LIVERPOOL vs West Ham 05/06)
When a player has a match named after them, you know they’ve played well. This goal of the season winning goal was the defining moment of what was instantly dubbed ‘The Gerrard Final.’
This is a goal for which context is key. West Ham were on the verge of shocking Liverpool, leading 3-2 as the game moved into injury time. Gerrard, a year on from his Istanbul heroics, had already scored once in what seemed to be a losing effort. His captain’s efforts had left him struggling to move with cramp in the latter stages. For this reason, when the ball fell 35 yards from goal with time running out, a first time strike was the only option.
This isn’t the most graceful goal on this list. It is impossible to know whether Gerrard picked out the bottom corner or simply saw the goal and hoped for the best. Fully intentional or not, it was the type of goal that makes you squeal at your TV. The timing was perfect, the importance was huge and therefore the legend of the goal has lived on. If you watched enough Sunday League football you may eventually see someone get lucky with a similar piledriver. There cannot have been many goals at any level of football that have matched Gerrard’s for importance and spectacle.
18th – Rod Wallace (LEEDS vs Spurs 93/94)
The first two Premier League seasons offered goals of the season with many similarities. The early nineties voter clearly enjoyed watching a mazy dribble. Whilst this goal was extremely lucky to beat a Matt Le Tissier masterpiece against Newcastle, it is still very pleasing on the eye.
Weaving down the left touchline, Wallace gains credit for close control and an aesthetically pleasing curled finish. Ideally, the ball would’ve jammed itself in the old school stanchion. Mid height just isn’t cool enough to top this table.
Wallace shows excellent manipulation of the football whilst maneuvering between the sideline and flailing Spurs opponents. He covers an impressive distance at speed whilst taking the scenic route to goal. A winger skipping between two slide tackles is a scene unfortunately lost in the early 90s with defenders now encouraged to stay on their feet at all costs.
Classic kits and commentary from the legendary Barry Davies add to the charm of this retro effort. A calm celebration suggests that Wallace was used to producing mazy dribbles and composed finishes. As Davies states in his commentary, this is a ‘supreme solo goal.’
17th – Dennis Bergkamp (Leicester vs ARSENAL 97/98)
This goal offers something a little bit different from the majority on the list. As so often with Bergkamp, subtlety is everything.
I did not appreciate this goal as a 12-year-old. I could not understand the fuss made over a finish from barely six yards. Twenty years on, having now seen thousands of long-range strikes, this goal looks so much better. The first and second touches are ridiculously good. Perfect in fact.
This goal requires a level of technical skill and vision that would be almost impossible for an amateur to recreate. This three-touch masterpiece completed a hat-trick on the day for the Dutchman and also ensured he made up the entire top 3 for Goal of the Month in November 1997, the only player ever to achieve this feat.
Had Bergkamp dinked the finish or planted the classic Mitre ball into the extreme top corner it would have made for even greater viewing and would have finished higher on this list. That is, though, perhaps beside the point; this goal was all about the minimal fuss and maximum efficiency. Perhaps harshly placed, fans of the Dutchman can rest assured that he will be seen again safely inside the top 10
16th – Ryan Giggs (MAN UTD vs Arsenal 98/99)
Surely the most famous FA Cup goal to be scored outside of the final. Perhaps the most famous of all. Ryan Giggs’ solo run and blasted finish must be remembered in context for full impact. United were down to ten men against their bitter rivals. Peter Schmeichel had just denied Dennis Bergkamp from the spot but Arsenal were heavy favourites to win in extra time. Then Patrick Vieira misplaced a pass into the path of Ryan Giggs and the rest, historic treble and all, is history.
The goal itself is perhaps not as spectacular as nostalgia may have you believe. Giggs’ direct running and close control are excellent but Arsenal’s famous defence must still look back with horror at their attempts to stop him. The finish is little more than a simple blast but fits the raw emotion of the goal perfectly. The real shame is that Giggs, one of the coolest players of the 90s, was so overcome by the moment that his chest hair became almost as iconic as the goal itself.
This goal, like Gerrard’s above, is all about the moment. It must rank as one of the most important in United’s history. It is impossible to know if Arsenal’s 11 men would have overwhelmed United’s 10 in the closing stages of extra time. A penalty shootout would have, as always, been a lottery. It is quite conceivable, though, that ‘the treble’ would not have happened without this goal. The momentum from this semi-final stunner lifted the club to a last day title win and that famous comeback against Bayern. Giggs does not top this table for quality, but his goal is certainly one of the most memorable, the emotion still evident when re-watching almost 20 years later.