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.
Eden Hazard vs. Arsenal, 2017
“Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”
Interacting with this phrase typically creates an internal dialogue about the security of my own perceptions. As individuals, we all subscribe to our own interpretation of beauty. The beauty I see before me, with my own set of eyes, is mine. That perception of beauty, however, may contradict from the masses. At the end of the day, the beauty that I choose to see is, by all means, mine and mine alone.
It is that subjective interpretation of beautiful goals from Chelsea FC that brings us to this series. By the end, twenty goals will have been highlighted, likely leaving out many well-deserving goals that deserve praise and attention.
Not all goals are created equal. The end result is the same: a round, spherical object fully moving beyond a white line. However, the context surrounding the actions that lead to said goal scoring moment will likely never be the same — or be repeated.
And that’s why we appreciate these goals. Or any goal that may be left of this list. They are special to their innate uniqueness of the moment, the beautiful moments preceding the goal, and even the moments directly after.
For those familiar with the concept of a draft, mostly those following American professional sports, the idea is to have a nailed down plan or draft strategy. I’ve written at length in previous pieces about what I was looking to accomplish, but to reiterate, I wanted to showcase the stylistic beauty and variety found in the collection of Chelsea goals.
More than anything, I wanted to select Eden Hazard’s goal against Arsenal. Which one? Fun fact, Hazard has scored seven goals against Arsenal in his time as a Blue. But the answer to the previously posed question is the goal that best showcases his individual brilliance. The goal that truly stands out is the one where he not only puts his team on his back, but also one of his opponents — literally.
Every now and then a sequence of events in sports is born into this world where you are left incredulous. I felt the same for Hazard’s goal as I did watching Marshawn Lynch conjure beastmode against the New Orleans Saints in 2010, causing a literal earthquake. The physicality of the moment is invigorating. Even watching these highlights now, I feel a surge in my blood flow spurring a newfound sense of motivation to go out and do something great.
What Eden Hazard did to Arsenal, Francis Coquelin, Laurent Koscielny, and the other haphazard defenders in a 3-1 victory on Feb 4, 2017 will forever be stored in my memory — ready to be recalled at any moment to remind myself of the joy and happiness this world can organically create. And to laugh at Arsenal.
That 2016-17 title-winning season under Antonio Conte was a whirlwind. When these two clubs had met earlier in the season, Arsenal beat Chelsea 3-0 just in the first half. The remaining 45 minutes were more of a training exercise, one that Conte took full advantage of by first deploying the infamous 3-4-3 tactical set up, which would spark life into Chelsea. Thirteen straight victories would ensue and Chelsea would climb up from eighth to first.
By the time we met again in February, Chelsea were cruising to the title and Arsenal were fighting for their fourth place trophy. Clashes between these two clubs have always entertained. As fans, we knew going in that something special would happen.
In this game, the talismanic Hazard produced a special moment, out of basically nothing. David Luiz hit an outlet pass to Diego Costa, who won a 50/50 against Laurent Koscielny. Hazard then picked up the ball at the halfway line and hit the magic button.
His first victim was Koscielny. After losing out to Diego Costa’s 50/50 challenge, Koscielny had a chance to end Hazard’s run. Perhaps the more prudent play would’ve been to take a professional foul. Instead, Hazard broke his ankles as he cut behind Koscileny’s poorly chosen path towards the ball. Koscielny was lucky not to have fallen down to the pitch. Or unlucky — as we will revisit him again.
The second victim was Francis Coquelin. There was a time when Coquelin was heralded as a burgeoning midfield destroyer. A relatively productive squad player before the match, he was entering his prime and gaining attention as the stopper in Arsenal’s midfield. Quick enough to catch up to Hazard and hop on for a ride, however, he too failed to stop him.
Long, mazy runs through defenses had always been one of Hazard’s specialties. Watching him shrug off a defender into a spin cycle is as wondrous now, as it was then. It is an image that we do not see often, if at all. For Coquelin, his reputation would spiral thereafter. In the following winter transfer window, he escaped to Spain. Unluckily for him, Hazard made a similar move last summer.
The next victims were Koscielny (again), Shkodran Mustafi, and Nacho Monreal. After Hazard made Coquelin into a fidget spinner, Koscielny returned to position himself for more torture. Mesut Özil jogged slow enough to never be a threat, and Monreal sprinted ahead enough to crowd Hazard. Mustafi fell victim to a Hazard feint, resorting to a slide tackle a step late only to end up with a first row look at Hazard wheeling away in jubilation.
Hazard’s breakaway goal is a clear example of what he could do at his best. For me, it stands above all other goals (aside from Drogba’s header in Munich) for showcasing the brilliance that was Eden Hazard. Few players can attack with skill, pace, and power. Fewer players can embarrass the opposition and expose them as Sunday League players.
Even fewer players have the humility and grace to react to their special goal. Never change Eden… (come back please).
WAGNH’s Best and Most Beautifulest Chelsea Goals Draft 2020:
No.2: Eden Hazard vs. Arsenal, 2017
No.3: Didier Drogba vs. Bolton, 2009
No.4: Michael Essien vs. Arsenal, 2006
No.5: Eden Hazard vs. West Ham, 2019
No.6: Didier Drogba vs. Liverpool, 2006
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