The March 2020 goal of the month competition will be relatively sparse, given the Premier League’s postponement, but 13 years ago we were treated to one of the best contests of the century.
The eventual victor also won the Goal of the Season award in 2006-07, but almost all of the goals would have been towards the top of the pile in any other month.
We’ve taken the time to rank them all, from worst to best. What else were we going to do? Go outside?
9. Paul Robinson (Spurs v Watford)
We get it, Paul Robinson can kick a ball very far.
8. Hameur Bouazza (Watford v Plymouth)
A tasty finish, sure, but let’s not forget it’s against Plymouth. Had it bounced down off the crossbar, instead of clipping it on the way in, we’d be ranking this higher. It didn’t, though, so we’re not.
7. Kevin Davies (Bolton v Sheffield United)
Gonna level with you, we didn’t realise Kevin Davies could do this. It’s like a slightly worse version of that Michael Essien goal against Arsenal (below) from around the same time, but it’s ol’ KD living his best life.
6. Niko Kranjcar (Portsmouth v Fulham)
Fun fact: an hour passed between writing the previous entry and starting on this one, because we were lost in Niko’s eyes for most of the intervening period. The five minutes at the end were spent composing ourselves. Oh, and the goal itself? Very good.
5. Didier Drogba (Chelsea v Everton)
If this doesn’t bounce on its way in, this is number one. Proper Marco van Basten stuff from Drogba, who was more or less at his peak that season. Well, one of his peaks, because he was good enough to have two. This would have been good enough to win Goal of the Month on plenty of other occasions.
4. Paul Scholes (Man Utd v Blackburn)
This goal came in the same season as that volley against Villa. You know the one. Corner cleared to the edge of the box, thwacked goalward, in off the underside of the bar, Gábor Király looking on helplessly with the expression of a man whose ice cream has just been stolen from his hand by a seagull. The one against Blackburn wasn’t necessarily better, but it was funnier. Not one but two Blackburn defenders sliding across desperately while Scholes slows down, shrugs his shoulders and just waits until they’re done.
3. Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea v Spurs)
Yes, he meant it, shut up. Follow the eyes.
Just because Shevchenko’s stint at Chelsea was a relative disaster doesn’t mean there weren’t some very special highlights. You have his long-range belter against Aston Villa in 2007-08 and, before that, there’s this.
The arc of the ball is just beautiful. Take a look at Paul Robinson in the Spurs goal. He knows where it’s going, and he knows there’s nothing he can do to keep it out, and he knows even as much as diving for the ball would do Shevchenko a disservice. Sometimes all you can do is stop and stare.
2. Peter Crouch (Liverpool v Arsenal)
Ask any footballer to repeat this goal, and they’ll need a day’s worth of practice to even come close.
Ask them to do it while occupying Peter Crouch’s body and they’ll collapse into a heap of broken bones within half an hour.
The close control to beat his man and find the top corner is phenomenal in any circumstance, but (a) to pull off something like this in what’s almost one fluid movement, quicker than your average player could even contemplate doing it and (b) for it to be the way you complete a perfect hat-trick? That takes it up another level altogether.
1. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United v Bolton)
No arguments here. The voters got it absolutely right.
A rapid counter-attack from one penalty area to the other is one of the most satisfying goals a team can score, but here you have the added aspect of all the component parts being delightful in their own right.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s chest control is perfect even before he nutmegs Kevin Nolan with such subtlety that Nolan probably took a day to realise he’d even been nutmegged.
Rooney’s subsequent backheel couldn’t have been timed any better, demonstrating the telepathy between him and Ronaldo as he let the Portuguese eat up ground like a gazelle.
And then the finish. Oh, the finish. An unimprovable dink. The kind of finish that will leave you shouting “fuck off” in an empty room. The platonic ideal of a counter-attacking goal.