Reminiscing about our most favorite and Chelsea’s greatest goals from the past ~20 years
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.
Didier Drogba vs. Everton, 2006
I admit, I may have left too much subjectivity within my parameters. The aim was to strip away any context that inflated a goal’s importance. Drogba’s Champions League-winning penalty is precious to me, but without any backstory it’s a wonky-legged rolling of the ball into the net that, while effective and thus fine, is unspectacular.
I definitely didn’t want the most important goals, and I didn’t even want the best goal, I wanted the most beautiful.
It’s a difficult exercise though, complicated by the fact that Chelsea have scored so many important goals. Further complicating things is that many of those important goals are also objectively beautiful. To perform the surgery I requested, you have to know where to start cutting to dissect the two, which is a form of torture.
This is a truth I acutely realized when attempting to write about this goal. It didn’t win a trophy or anything, as it was merely a December match versus Everton — though winning at Goodison has sometimes felt tougher than winning trophies.
Typically, too much situational meaning doesn’t allow for an accurate translation into aesthetics (think, again, Drogba’s penalty in Munich). However, the one element substantial enough to bridge that gap is “audacity”.
Often, audacity gets confused with carelessness because it is, falsely, too intertwined with the result. Whether something works or not is too rudimentary a qualification. Audacity is more refined, more measured, more intentional. Sure, there’s an awesome confidence in it that is important, but what truly makes something audacious is a combination of knowing something others don’t, and having the skill to exploit that knowledge.
The scene: 86 minutes played, 2-2.
The name: Didier Drogba.
Here, in the 87th minute of a match tied 2-2, Drogba constructs a route to goal in his mind before those tasked with stopping him are even aware of the possibility of said route’s existence.
Chelsea’s goalkeeper (ed.note: Henrique Hilário!) begins the play by punting the ball into so much space that it takes a high bounce and can only be flicked on in the general direction of Didier Drogba, who’s thirty-five yards from the opposition’s goal and facing his own.
The best thing about this is that, at this point, Drogba already knows that he is two touches from celebrating a winner. No one else, let alone the Everton defense, has any idea what’s happening. They have backed off, set their line and were preparing to call out runners and get in the way of any attempted dribble into the box.
This is where the audacity is found: in defenders going through their motions without the knowledge that they’d already been deemed irrelevant.
Those two touches Drogba needed were perfect. First, a familiar chest control to cushion the ball into his path. Second, a dastardly cut across the ball on the volley, giving it a wicked trajectory. It takes the second replay to see the full genius of the strike.
If you were to trace the trajectory of the ball from boot to net onto a blank canvas the line you’d end up with would fetch a few thousand at Art Basel.
The pace forces Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard to rely on his first impulse, and the whip assures that he’s almost immediately be betrayed by it. The ball presents as if it’s on a line arrowing for the top corner to the keeper’s right. But as soon as his brain decodes that, the ball takes a sharp turn in the opposite direction.
In fact, Howard tries to swat the ball with his left because his right — the one he put in position to stop the ball from finding the top corner — might as well have been in another postal code. In the end the goalkeeper’s leap appears lazy and unassured, when in reality he’d just been fooled by a sphere of synthetic leather with nothing but air in it.
Normally when goals are scored from this distance the joyless among us will point to the poor positioning of a goalkeeper. But Howard wasn’t doing anything he also wasn’t doing anything egregious. He was still in his six-yard box and had a good view of the shot.
The goalkeeper’s problem wasn’t so much his positioning, it was the audacity of Didier Drogba.
WAGNH’s Best and Most Beautifulest Chelsea Goals Draft 2020:
No.7: Didier Drogba vs. Everton, 2006
No.8: Ramires vs. Barcelona, 2012
No.9: Fernando Torres vs. Barcelona, 2012
No.10: Damien Duff vs. Barcelona, 2005
No.11: Wayne Bridge vs. Arsenal, 2004
No.12: Raul Meireles vs. Benfica, 2012
No.13: Gianfranco Zola vs. Wimbledon, 1997
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