Watching the collection of the top 10 best goals scored in the Premier League, they’re a sight to see. Wonderful skills. Beautiful precision. Everything from Tony Yeboah’s screamer for Leeds United against Liverpool to Paulo Di Canio’s incredible scissor kick for West Ham United against Wimbledon, and many more.
But one thing I noticed while watching these, and also thinking about Gareth Bale’s wonderful goal earlier this month for Tottenham against Stoke City, is that all of the goals have one thing in common. Watch the video again and you’ll see that all of them feature the ball rising in an upward trajectory rather than a shot that skims across the grass. Except for two of the goals, though. The goals by Dennis Bergkamp and Matt Le Tissier were scored with the ball bobbling into the net across the grass. The reason both of those goals were included in the top 10 best was not because of the way the ball went into the net but because what the players did immediately before the goal, by flicking the ball over or around players and then knocking the ball into the goal.
My question is this: What is it about goals that are considered the best where the ball goes into the net via an upward trajectory? What’s wrong with goals that are hit low to the ground that find their way into the net?
For example, take Paul Scholes’s low driven shot for United against Fulham last week. It was a shot of beauty. Lots of precision, but it’s unlikely to appear on the best goals of the season for 2010-11. However, if Scholes had taken that shot again and leaned back when he hit it so the ball would float into the top corner of the net instead of the bottom, soccer fans worldwide would be drooling and it would assuredly be a contender for at least goal of the month, if not goal of the season.
If you’ve played soccer before, you’ll know that it’s often harder to keep the shot low to the ground by leaning over the ball when you strike it. The natural inclination is to just hit it or, to lean back, which is why so many balls float over the goal and into the back row of stadiums.
What is it about goals that are scored with the ball striking the upper part of the net that make them look so much more beautiful? And what is it about shots that are hit low and close to the ground that make them look so ordinary?
I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on the topic. Feel free to share them in the comments section below.