The rules were simple: 5 bloggers, 4 rounds, snake draft. David picked first, then Yatco, Graham, André, and Rohaan. 20 goals in total.
All goals eligible except Didier Drogba’s equalizer in the 2012 Champions League final. Too obvious.
In reverse order, these are our favorite, greatest, bestest (however each of us interpreted the rules) Chelsea goals. You will probably disagree, but you’re probably wrong.
Arjen Robben vs. Norwich City, 2004
There are two Chelsea Football Clubs, closely related yet drastically different. One is an insatiable monster who feeds on trophies and trophies alone. The other is a royal blue tsunami of goals. Sadly, the two rarely overlap, but when they do, as they did under Carlo Ancelotti in 2009-10, you get 103 goals scored en route to a Premier League title. For context, by using some simple math to project through the current league suspension to the completion the season, that’s 16 more than Klopp’s heavy metal footballing machine are on pace to score.
Chelsea’s success at accruing trophies has — and with good reason — hogged so much of the spotlight from its twin brother that the very definition of a beautiful Chelsea goal is hard to speak of without acknowledging the contextual importance of the goal. This is not a terrible thing per se — most London clubs *cough*LOLSPURS*cough* still don’t know what it’s like to score an important goal — but it does impede our ability to drag little brother into the spotlight.
This is why that 2012 goal is banned from selection for this draft, to create space for the third goal of a 4-0 win over Norwich City in December 2004 to be measured as an equal.
It deserves this.
Chelsea produce some champagne football in a sweeping move started by Claude Makélélé which included a classy back-heel assist from Tiago before Arjen Robben volleys home as the Blues defeat Norwich City 4-0 at Stamford Bridge, December 18, 2004. #CFC pic.twitter.com/MLnUfeaQn2— Classic Chels (@ClassicChels) April 20, 2020
First things first, yes Arjen Robben had hair once. Ok, now on to the goal.
It’s always pretty when multiple players use their first touches to play an intricate bit of pinball. Robben’s control and cut inside from right-to-left (drink!) turns the defense, and Lampard’s run against the grain gives the winger space to deposit a nifty reverse pass. From here, the fun can begin in earnest.
Lampard fashions an inventive scoop to loop the ball between closing defenders, then Tiago connects with a delicate little hop and backheel that at first glance appears to be more entry-level ballet than killer final ball in a Premier League football match; Robben lurks.
The dichotomy in the softness of the two touches preceding Robben’s final involvement builds the suspense while the vigor growing in his steps as he follows the buildup portends something violent. My list of things to change if given access to a time machine is lengthy, but eventually I’d get around to ensuring that David Attenborough was in the booth to call this goal. (Tell me you wouldn’t watch a spin-off series titled Planet Earth: Goals. Of course you would.)
While the two midfielders treat the ball as precious cargo, Arjen “Notorious L.E.F.T.F.O.O.T.” Robben tries to splice its atoms. There’s something in the programming of lefties (ed.note: or in the programming of righties watching lefties) that makes their movements appear more pure than others. It’s why slow motion replays of Marcos Alonso’s strikes resemble Roger Federer’s backhands. But here, sensing both opportunity and duty after starting the move from outside the final third, Robben punches the ball with his boot.
This isn’t to suggest that the strike wasn’t pure; it’s Arjen Robben’s left foot, of course it was. However, it was a strike that acknowledged responsibility over artistry. The art had been taken care of already. To try to add to it would have been wrong. So Robben flings his whole body into the ball, allowing the connection point to serve as the launching pad that sends the ball buzzing atop blades of grass, only contacting the ground once it was clear of the goalkeeper.
I didn’t pay enough attention in physics class to detail it any further, I can only tell you that I love volleys because of the suddenness of force. The right contact can transform a ball wistfully floating through the air into a murder weapon. I will never understand them, but I will always love them.
Anyway, that’s enough words, here’s a GIF of the final phase of play for you to drool over.
(Ed.sidenote: this was only the 12th Chelsea match of Robben’s career, after starting his first season at the club with an injury, but already his 5th goal; he’d collected his 5th assist of the season in the same game as well.)
WAGNH’s Best and Most Beautifulest Chelsea Goals Draft 2020:
No. 14: Arjen Robben vs. Norwich City, 2004
No. 15: Claude Makélélé vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2006
No. 16: Oscar vs. Juventus, 2012
No.17: Bethany England vs. Birmingham City, 2019
No.18: Demba Ba vs. Manchester United, 2013
No.19: André Schürrle vs. Burnley, 2014
No.20: Alex vs. Liverpool, 2009