Goals are the big commodity in football. A regular goal-scorer has governing bodies turning a blind-eye to 50% of their vicious stamps, once ethical clubs embrace biters and racists while others try to employ rapists still serving their sentence. The value of goals can turn the beautiful game ugly. But occasionally, as Christian Eriksen proved again last night, some goals can be so wonderful they take the game to a higher level.
It’s not uncommon to hear the cliché from a football pundit that all goals are worth the same – a lucky deflection from a goal-mouth scramble is just as valuable as a flowing team move with great skill; true in the same game, but in a sport that is thankfully not just all about cold facts, the people’s game allows us to subjective discuss and judge great goals, reviving memories of a kind only sport can bring while breathing life into post-match pub conversations or long away trips back home.
The broader understanding of the game takes in much more than numbers. In fact, most stats tweeted about football on a daily basis are meaningless and have little significant context, not accounting for things better assessed with an appreciation on everything happening on a pitch at the time; limited touches on a ball don’t value the positional play off the ball while a percentage of successful final balls don’t appreciate the skill of playing balls into dangerous areas for attacking players who may not always be good enough to being in the right place at the right time.
Another stat that doesn’t always tell the full story is an individual player’s goal tally. A player may begin as a wide player before flourishing centrally under a great manager in England, boosting their scoring charts as a flat-track bully, in between less spectacular spells on the continent, only to later cash in with the MSL and then from a very generous TV broadcaster. Meanwhile, other wide players may have a track record of affecting big games with decisive moments late in matches, yet end up languishing in the reserves due to the dubious judgement of the next man coming through the managerial door.
There is no formula to weighting goals when evaluating their value. But there should be no doubt Christian Eriksen’s second goal for Tottenham Hotspur last night in the dying minutes of the League Cup Semi-Final second leg at Sheffield United was truly great. Continue reading…