The Greatest League in the World will soon be reintroducing itself to our collective consciousness.
For many people that means the allure of goals, overhead kicks, pinpoint passing and, you know, high levels of technical proficiency. For us, it’s a chance to reconnect with footballing events at the other end of the scale.
You know, the minor errors and flashes of ineptitude that drive you mad under normal circumstances – but which you’d give anything to see on your screen again after several months without football. The game’s not all about skill-masters doing amazing things. It’s also about unexceptional players constantly making trivial mistakes.
If you don’t love football at its most irritating, then you don’t deserve it at its best. So here’s a selection of infuriating on-pitch occurrences we’re looking forward to seeing again.
Set-pieces and crosses that don’t beat the first defender
Also known as “the Eriksen”, this phenomenon is guaranteed to send 99% of fans spiralling into a rage every time they see it happen.
It’s a mystery to most observers how professional footballers so consistently fail to kick the ball over or past the first man. All the more so when it’s a set-piece specialist charged with delivering a decent ball into a dangerous area. You had, as they say, one job.
See also, free-kick takers going for glory when a goal down in the 90th-minute with the ball in a great crossing position.
Death and taxes.
And Christian Eriksen hitting the first man at a corner.
— Football Ramble Daily (@FootballRamble) December 22, 2019
Forwards needlessly fouling defenders who are boxed into a corner
“Don’t foul him. Don’t foul him! DON’T F*CKING FOUL – he’s fouled him.”
Few things are more predictable than a clumsy attacker bundling into the back of a defender desperately hoping to be bundled into. This usually occurs when the defender is attempting to shield a ball that simply won’t go out of play.
Normally, the “victim” will stick out their arse in the hope of feeling even a glancing blow, waiting for any excuse whatsoever to hit the deck and buy a cheap free-kick that will bail them out of a sticky situation. Nine times out of 10, the forward will oblige.
Players getting booked for poorly executed dives
If you’re going to simulate, at least do it right. Diving is as much a part of the game now as 30-yard screamers, so a professional footballer should be good at it.
There’s nothing more infuriating for an opponent than when you successfully con the referee into penalising them. By the same token, there’s nothing more galvanising for your adversary than when you get stung for a badly performed flop.
Chelsea are furious! 😡
Willian is booked for diving after going down just outside the box
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 17, 2020
Goalkeepers punching balls they could easily have caught
In the early years of the Premier League, goalkeepers punching away a cross was considered a filthy foreign habit. Gradually, the English game realised it was a safe and often more efficient way of protecting one’s goalmouth.
But, sometimes, it’s just not necessary. There’s no surer sign of a #rattled gloveman than when they scamper out to a cross and flap it unconvincingly back into traffic – despite there being no opponent within 10 metres of them. In Sunday League, this event is often followed by shouts of “he doesn’t fancy it, lads!”
Goal kicks that go directly out of play
These days, most keepers are capable of kicking the ball with something approaching confidence. Some of them, in fact, look better with their feet than a lot of outfield players.
Still, you see the odd gaffe, the most annoying of which is when a keeper simply boots the ball directly into the stands from a goal kick. Usually, this happens when they’re trying to skim one out to a wide midfielder who has pulled out to the touchline – but often it’s just because they’re shite.
See also, kicks out of the hand that soar over everyone and bounce harmlessly into the opposing keeper’s mitts.
Players running offside when there’s absolutely no need
Alex Ferguson’s much-repeated quote about Pippo Inzaghi stated that the Italian poacher “was born offside.” That’s because SuperPippo needed every advantage he could get, due to the fact he was pretty much dreadful at every aspect of football except scoring goals.
A lot of the time, however, there’s just no need for it, with sloppy timing and bad decision-making to blame. Perhaps the most aggravating form this takes is when a short-corner recipient knocks it back to the taker, who is standing in an offside position. Schoolboy.
Really really really fail to understand how Lacazette can get caught offside here. Such poor movement. He's looking across the defender too. Crazy. pic.twitter.com/vNiTmRo6wW
— KG. 🦇 (@KingKosser) January 22, 2020
The ‘why didn’t he take the shot himself?’ moment
You’re through on goal, one-on-one with the keeper with no defenders in sight and in a perfect position to shoot. What do you do?
You hold the ball up, dwelling on it until the defence gets back into position. Then, you pass the ball to the weaker foot of a nearby team-mate who is suddenly surrounded by five opponents and unable to get a shot away.
See also, the “all he had to do was f*cking square it and we had an open goal” moment.
Simple passes hit directly to an opponent
It’s incredible how often high-level pros do things that amateurs would feel ashamed to be seen doing in a five-aside game.
And yet, we’ve seen players – usually centre-backs – at elite clubs firing crisp 10-yard passes straight to the feet of the nearest opponent. Few in the Premier League do this better than the likes of Phil Jones and Shkodran Mustafi.
Mustafi Misplacing a pass in his designated sector as per pic.twitter.com/3dysuF5BSc
— Gutterpunk stan (@Fragile_Fekir) January 3, 2020
High balls to a tiny lone forward surrounded by massive defenders
Honestly, what is the point?
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