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. Bolton, 2009
Sometimes, football is more than football. The wider cultural context around sports is what give them their meaning. Without that context, without fans’ investment in wins and losses and trophies and records, the whole edifice collapses. The moments that stick in the memory do so because supporters think they matter, and for no other reason. Well ... mostly.
Sometimes, football is more than football, but in a totally orthogonal direction. Sometimes, dear readers, football is art.
The context doesn’t matter, but here it is anyway. This is football writing, and I’ll follow the rules. It’s late October, 2009, and Chelsea are 3-0 up at Bolton. The Trotters are down to 10, having seen Jlloyd Samuel sent off in the first half. The Blues would eventually go on to win the double this season, and would score a lot of goals en route.
Zat Knight’s 82nd-minute own goal meant that Chelsea had scored twenty for no reply in their last five games in all competitions. This was a team at the very top of its form, one capable of demolishing opposing sides so thoroughly that the end of games became an exercise in taking the piss*.
And on Halloween at the Reebok, the Blues reached the absolute pinnacle of piss-taking:
Writing about football, as the saying doesn’t go, is like dancing about architecture. Insofar as it works, it works because we compress images and movements into common phrases. “Drogba rose above his man and headed in at the near post,” for instance, invokes an image. “Hazard wove through the defence and poked home” invokes another.
These images work via association. Footballers rise and weave, they poke and head. But the language of football writing fails when confronted with anything genuinely new or beautiful. It’s built for function, not aesthetics. So if I told you that Anelka, in possession on the Chelsea left, chipped a delicate ball into the box, which Deco chested to Lampard, who volleyed a half-scorpion-flick to Drogba, who in turn volleyed home ... well, you’re better off watching the video.
Football-as-art moments are far rarer than football-as-emotional-destiny ones, but the nice thing about them is that they turn up whenever they feel like it. The setup for Ramires’ goal at the Camp Nou relied on a red card, two Barcelona goals, a Drogba goal before that, and more broadly a full Champions League campaign along with some rather loud domestic snafus. Even Victor Hugo would be hard pressed to produce a scenario this intricate.
Drogba at Bolton, however? All that took was three passes and a finish. It could have happened at any time, to anyone. But it happened to us, and I’ll never forget it.
NB: My initial interpretation of the rules of this draft was that we should be ranking goals purely by their aesthetic value. Sorry for the mess.
*Ed.note: This game would see Chelsea beat Bolton 4-0 twice in four days, once in the League Cup and once in the Premier League.
**Yes, that is Gary Cahill with the front row tickets to this goal.
WAGNH’s Best and Most Beautifulest Chelsea Goals Draft 2020:
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