Today's post is from Ed of The Liverpool Offside
Very typically we spend a good portion of our time analyzing the heres and theres of football---chalkboards and individual statistics and the influence of a particular tactical approach. And the folks involved in our little late season collective all do a terrific job of that, keeping tabs on what's relevant and what's not, and how looking beyond the scoresheet can often enhance your understanding of the game. There's also, however, plenty of time to celebrate the scoresheet and the sex appeal. Don't get me wrong, the smarts are where terrific debate and discussion are born and sustained. But the twisting run through a wall of defenders, the jackhammer from distance, the perfectly placed free kick---there's something blissful and unique about the raw emotion experienced when the ball hits the back of the net with a superbly-taken finish or in a pressure-packed situation. So today, as part of our continuing end of the season poll series with Anfield Asylum, Paisley Gates, and Oh You Beauty, we take a look at the goal of the season contenders. The only guideline we set (and barely screwed with) was that it could only be one goal per player; we know there's been more than a few impressive efforts for those who've found the net a bit more frequently, but in the spirit of the thing we wanted to spread the love a bit. Beyond that, though, anything was up debate, and we think you'll agree that each is more than worthy of mention. The goals:
Meireles's Volley at Wolves
Raul Stunner.wmv (via footyfilms2)
I think it's fair to say that few footballing moves are sweeter than a well-struck volley---the combination of timing, technique, positioning, and sheer force makes for a viewing experience second to none (see: Tugay Special). And for a five week period earlier this year, there was nobody better at it than Raul Meireles, who scored five goals in six matches, four of which came on some sort of volleyed effort. The best of the bunch came away to Wolves as Liverpool sought their first win under Kenny Dalglish. Daniel Agger's punt upfield from a free kick looked to be cleared to safety by Christophe Berra, but Meireles, some twenty-five odd yards away from goal, positioned himself in wait below the falling header. The contact is pure and the strike inch-perfect, dipping just under the crossbar past a helpless Wayne Hennessey. We probably use the word "stunning" too much in football, but in this case I'm not sure it's enough.
Torres Curler v. Chelsea
Fernando Torres goals against Chelsea (via percy1985)
As much as we hate to admit it now, there was a time when a Fernando Torres goal was a) something that actually happened, and b) something to be celebrated. After a shaky start to the season both collectively and individually, this strike, the second of a first-half brace, was vintage Torres. The lightning fast break from the midfield led to a familiar position on the left for the Spaniard (think March 2010 against Sunderland), who cut in before delivering an unstoppable curler past a frozen Petr Cech. At the time, it looked like a sign of things to come and a welcome reminder of the magic he was capable of, and, unfortunately for Chelsea supporters, the one that means he's scored more against Chelsea than for them this season.
Suarez's solo run for Kuyt's tap-in v. Man United
Dirk Kuyt 1 - 0 Manchester United GOAL! 06/03/11 (via LCFCxDiLKES)
What was that about "stunning" being overused? If Meireles' volley is one end of the goal-scoring spectrum, Dirk Kuyt's tap-in after Luis Suarez danced through one-third of Manchester United's defense is at the other. It was an effortless (and probably needless) poke from Kuyt, as the spin Suarez put on it would have likely seen it in at the far post. But this one has little to do with the actual finish and everything to do with four touches that led up to it. We all knew that Suarez had the potential to be some sort of special, and this was the formal announcement. First he dribbled away from and subsequently nutmegged Rafael, then dragged around Michael Carrick, and finally bustled through Wes Brown and chipped over Edwin van der Sar to leave Dirk Kuyt in front of an empty net. So yeah, it's Kuyt on the scoresheet, and we're sticking to one goal per player, but yeah. Suarez.
Suarez Narrow Blast at Sunderland
Luis suarez goal vs sunderland (via BigBaz06)
The previous nominee ended up as a combined effort with Kuyt, but this one was solo Suarez from start to finish. The little one-two with Kuyt from the throw-in deep in Sunderland territory left the Uruguayan with seemingly nowhere to go, and the possiblity of taking it on himself seemed to be optimistic at best. We know better now. Suarez' near-maniacal eye for goal allows him to do things other players might not even think of, and bursting past Lee Cattermole to free up space at a roughly 178° angle with the face of goal was one of those things. The onrushing Titus Bramble did nothing other than urge Suarez on, and the shot explodes past Simon Mignolet at the near post for the dagger. You can argue that Mignolet should have done better, but you'd be asking too much.
Lucas Screamer v. Steaua
Lucas Goal vs Steaua (HD) (via jordowestie)
The four Lucas critics that remain will quickly point out that his goal return hasn't been commensurate with his nationality or Liverpool's previous central midfielders, even though neither Xabi Alonso nor Javier Mascherano were measured by the same standard and grumble grumble grumble and so on. Anyhow, the few goals he does score are largely worth remembering, and this one in front of the Kop against Steaua is the pick of the litter. The clearance closes on him quickly and probably bounces away further than he'd have preferred, but he follows up in a flash and unleashes a belter that wastes no time between his laces and the back of the net.