In his two seasons with Southampton, Sofiane Boufal has only shown flashes of the promise he demonstrated whilst playing in France. The Moroccan though did produce this exceptional piece of solo brilliance in a fairly sterile game against West Bromwich Albion.
The game on the south coast looked like it was petering out towards a pretty ordinary 0-0 draw when Boufal took centre stage in the 85th minute. The tricky winger, who had only arrived into the contest as a substitute four minutes earlier, he twisted past Allan Nyom in his own half before using his speed to leave Jake Livermore trailing in his wake. As Boufal continued his surge towards goal, he bamboozled past Craig Dawson. Desperate to keep up having been the first man beaten, Nyom ran into Dawson and both hit the turf. Gareth McAuley was the next defender who backed off and was beaten and lastly, goalkeeper Ben Foster couldn’t stop his neatly-placed effort into the bottom corner.
It was a goal fitting to win a tight match between two sides who would ultimately spend the majority of the campaign at the wrong end of the table. It didn’t sparkle Boufal’s season into life though. He was left out of Morocco’s squad for the 2018 World Cup finals and was recently excluded from the Saints’ pre-season tour of China by new manager Mark Hughes. His future at the club looks bleak.
However, this tremendous solo goal was voted by fans as the Carling Goal of the Season for the 2017-2018 campaign.
When Gianfranco Zola joined Chelsea from Parma in November 1996, there was as much attention on the transfer from the Italian media as there was from the English press. By the time he left Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2003, he had become one of the club’s greatest-ever players. This was an early sign of his dazzling brilliance against reigning champions Manchester United.
Played in by Dan Petrescu, it looked like Zola was going up a corridor with little options. He had other ideas. He took advantage of Denis Irwin committing himself by cutting inside his tackle. Gary Pallister was beaten by his skill and Peter Schmeichel was beaten at his near post by this tricky, majestic Italian.
It gave Chelsea the lead and although Manchester United did leave the capital with a point by the end of the afternoon, they certainly now knew who Gianfranco Zola really was. He also scored a winner in February 1997 for his country at Wembley Stadium against England and despite arriving four months into the campaign, was voted the Player of the Year by the Football Writers.
Now playing for FC Sion in Switzerland, there are two things Pajtim Kasami is probably known for. One is a brief fling with X-Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger, the other for this amazing long-range volley in October 2013 against Crystal Palace.
It was a London Derby which both sides needed to win as both teams had made slow starts to the 2013-2014 season. Palace had scored early on but this goal from Kasami completely shifted the momentum away from the home side. Sascha Riether claimed the assist as his long ball found Kasami. The Swiss international controlled his pass superbly on his chest and with his second touch, produced an outstanding volley that Julian Speroni had simply no chance of saving.
Fulham won 4-1 and Ian Holloway left his position as Crystal Palace manager two days later. It didn’t quite win Goal of the Season for 2013-2014 but it was a strike that was talked about all over the country.
Aston Villa were one of the most exciting Premier League teams in the 1992-1993 season and they pushed Manchester United very close in the title race. Ron Atkinson’s side produced great entertainment and they were spearheaded by a formidable attacking partnership of Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson.
At Selhurst Park in October 1992, Atkinson scored the Goal of the Season and it was all his own work. He won possession in his own half and went on a mazy run through the heart of the pitch, evading three Wimbledon defending challenges. He had options, including Saunders to his left-hand side but Atkinson was only interested in scoring himself.
Spotting the goalkeeper slightly off his line, he then produced a delicious chip which found the back of the net. It was a goal extremely fitting to win any contest when Dalian was at the peak of his powers.
Dalian Atkinson died on 15th August 2016. He was just 48-years-old. His legacy will always be marked by this world-class goal.
Full-back Niclas Jensen won three Danish league championships with FC Copenhagen and also had spells playing for PSV Eindhoven, Borussia Dortmund and Fulham.
However, before he joined the Cottagers in 2005, he had already experienced English football with Manchester City. Goalscoring was not a forte of Jensen’s play (he only managed two for the Citizens) but against Leeds United in January 2003, he scored the goal of his life.
The home side were leading 1-0 early in the second half when Jensen produced this spectacular volley. Nicolas Anelka ran down the right-hand side, gamely being chased by Leeds’ Danny Mills. Anelka picked out Jensen on the other side of the pitch. The Dane’s control was magnificent and it was a special strike.
It was one of the finest goals to have been scored in the final season of professional football at Maine Road and ensures Jensen has a fond place in the hearts of many City supporters.
Midfielder Jordan Henderson was always going to find it tough replacing the inspirational Steven Gerrard as captain of Liverpool Football Club. However, he has done it his own way and whilst he might not produce the fireworks Gerrard used to serve time and time again, Henderson is a solid and strong presence in the Reds midfield line.
The skipper produced this brilliant goal in September 2016 against Chelsea. From an attacking throw-in, Gary Cahill’s clearance fell straight into Henderson’s path. He took a touch to get the ball out of his feet and had a quick look at his target. He then bent a beautiful curling shot into the top corner of Thibaut Courtois’ goal. It was a marvellous goal and it won Goal of the Month honours for September 2016.
Liverpool FC won 2-1 and were one of only two sides to beat Antonio Conte’s champions-elect at Stamford Bridge during the 2016-2017 season.
At the peak of his powers, Cesc Fabregas was one of the best midfielders in the world. Although he has gone on to achieve Premier League titles with Chelsea, it was his goalscoring prowess with Arsenal which made him such a wonderful player.
On North London Derby day in October 2009, Fabregas produced one of the finest solo goals in Premier League history. Arsenal had just gone 1-0 ahead in the 41st minute through a Robin van Persie goal from close-range. Directly from kick-off, Tottenham squandered possession and Fabregas punished them ruthlessly.
The Spaniard evaded three challenges and as Vedran Corluka started to close him down, he finished smartly into the bottom corner of the net. The defending might have been suspect from Spurs but Fabregas’ quality for this goal simply couldn’t be overlooked.
Arsenal won the game 3-0 but Tottenham would get their revenge with arguably, an even better strike in April 2010 from a Premier League debutant.
Matt Taylor was one of those players who could score simply breathtaking goals in any season. After his amazing long-distance effort a season earlier at The Stadium of Light against Sunderland, he produced another sizzling strike from distance at home to Everton in December 2006.
In the 13th minute, the ball popped up to the midfielder from at least 45-yards away from goal. There’s no thought in Taylor’s mind. He went for goal and his spectacular attempt left Tim Howard completely stranded. It came in a period where he was scoring goals for fun as Portsmouth won the game 2-0.
Right-back Glen Johnson flourished during his three-year spell on the south coast with Portsmouth from 2006 to 2009. His consistent, attacking-style performances for Pompey made him the regular England right-back following Gary Neville’s retirement.
Defensive quality isn’t always Johnson’s strength but scoring long-range stunners certainly are. Against Hull City in November 2008, he produced this pile driver of a shot.
The game was level at 1-1 in the 63rd minute when Michael Turner, who had scored Hull’s equaliser, cleared the ball from a cross into the box. Johnson raced onto the loose ball and controlled the ball on his chest. Then on his second touch, he launched a marvellous volley which went straight into the top corner of the net.
It was a stunning effort and it won the BBC Goal of the Season award for the 2008-2009 season, even if Portsmouth didn’t take all three points form this particular contest.
Coventry City’s first-ever Premier League victory over Manchester United arrived in December 1997 through a dramatic late finale to this match at Highfield Road. Ex-Red Devil Dion Dublin had just levelled the scores at 2-2 with a penalty before Darren Huckerby’s individual brilliance would win the match for Gordon Strachan’s battling side.
After an advantage was played following a foul on Trond Egil Soltvedt, Huckerby took control of the ball and the destiny of the match. He went on a weaving run, shaking off Gary Neville’s tackle, deceiving David May and then, rolling the ball into the left-hand corner of the net past Peter Schmeichel.
It was the finest moment in Huckerby’s Premier League career. Manchester United had been humbled by some solo quality just three days before the end of 1997.
Signing Stan Collymore in October 2000 was seen as the final throw of the dice for manager Chris Hutchings, who badly needed a result to save his position in the post. Bradford were bottom ahead of this Yorkshire Derby with Leeds United.
Collymore made an instant impact on his debut with this glorious goal. Leeds presented the opportunity to the home side with some sloppy passing. Benito Carbone picked out Collymore with a brilliant cross and the forward produced an instinctive overhead kick which was straight out of the top-draw.
His stay at Bradford was largely forgettable apart from this moment and although Leeds did recover to earn a share of the spoils on this Sunday afternoon, this remains one of Collymore’s finest Premier League efforts.
Cuco Martina would only score one goal in his Premier League career for Southampton. However, he will never score a better goal than the one he managed on Boxing Day 2015 against Arsenal. The full-back connected with a fierce curling shot that with a searing swerve, completely defeated Petr Cech.
The man from Curacao made the most of a timid headed clearance from Per Mertesacker. It was one of those strikes that was certain to hit the back of the net from the moment it left Martina’s boot.
It started a Boxing Day horror show for Arsenal, who went on to lose this fixture 4-0. Martina now plays for Everton in the top-flight, having joined the club from St Mary’s in the summer of 2017.