The standard of goals in the Premier League is so high these days that it feels as though the prospect of a goal of the season contender on the opening day isn’t out of the question.
It’s not purely a recent phenomenon, though, and plenty of players have scored belters on the opening weekend in years gone by.
Some of those players went on to great things afterwards, but others weren’t able to make things stick…
Gus Poyet (Chelsea v Sunderland, 1999)
Poyet was already well-established at Chelsea by 1999, but his performance against Sunderland on the opening weekend of the season was one of his best ever in blue.
Poyet had already scored once when Gianfranco Zola provided a delightful ball into the only bit of space where Poyet might be able to reach it, but the Uruguayan decided merely reaching it wasn’t enough.
Timing his jump to perfection, he unleashed a scissor volley so good that we can’t even blame Thomas Sørensen for just standing there and watching it hit the back of the net.
Sometimes you’ll see a goal which makes you realise you don’t have the skills to make it as a professional footballer. This is one of those.
Mario Stanić (Chelsea v West Ham United, 2000)
Chelsea didn’t have to wait too long for another opening day stunner, giving season ticket holders their money’s worth within the first 90 minutes of the campaign.
Should West Ham’s defenders have closed down Mario Stanić more quickly? Sure, but they can’t have expected him to do that.
Not only was this the Croatian’s first goal for Chelsea, it came on his debut for the club. Smartly, he decided he’d never be able to improve on it and promptly got injured multiple times during his four years at Stamford Bridge.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool v Arsenal, 2016)
Arsenal and Liverpool have played out a couple of entertaining opening day clashes in the past: a 2010 clash brought red cards for Joe Cole and Laurent Koscielny on their Premier League debuts for their respective clubs, but the 2016 clash was even better.
Liverpool won 4-3 at the Emirates, but their first goal was the standout – yes, even better than Sadio Mané’s cut inside and finish.
Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick was one of those which looks like it’ll never have enough juice to beat the goalkeeper, only to somehow seemingly gain momentum as it nears the goal-line, taking it right into the postage stamp. Have you ever seen a ball will itself into the net? You have now.
Benito Carbone (Sheffield Wednesday v Newcastle United, 1997)
Sheffield Wednesday boosted their Italian contingent in the 1997-98 season, with Paolo di Canio and Francesco Sanetti arriving during the season, but Benito Carbone had no plans to be unseated at the club’s best-loved import.
Carbone scored Wednesday’s first goal of the season in an opening day defeat to Newcastle, after collecting a ball from the left and seeing his path to goal blocked. He wasn’t going to let that stop him, though, flicking the ball up into the air before connecting with a textbook bicycle kick. Shay Given stood no chance.
Carbone would start the season with seven goals in the first 10 games, but it wasn’t the best of starts for the Owls – they picked up just nine points, and further defeats saw manager David Pleat dismissed in November.
Obafemi Martins (Newcastle United v Bolton Wanderers, 2007)
We knew Martins was flexible, simply from watching his acrobatic celebrations, but his goal against Bolton was the sort of thing no adult human should be capable of.
Upon receiving a cross in his position, some players might have headed at goal. Some might have chested the ball down for a half-volley or up for a bicycle kick. Martins, however, decided to have his cake and eat it too, chesting the ball to the ground and flinging his entire body into the air without turning to lock eyes with Jussi Jääskeläinen even once.
Obviously there was a celebration to match.
David Beckham (Manchester United v Wimbledon, 1996)
Yeah, okay, I guess this deserves a mention.