It was a wild and woolly weekend in the Prem, and while we could fixate on the very real possibility that Chelsea may not even qualify for Champions League next year, I'd rather write about the Big 3--The Rafael, The Cisse, and The Bale.
Have we ever had 3 goals that great in one round of league play? Some people feel that the mantle of Goal of the Season passed 3 times in about 50 hours. I'm going to rate them on what I'll call the CLASS Scale--Comparing Level of Aesthetics, Surprise & Significance.
Rafael, Saturday, 23 mins, Loftus Road: Van Persie shot punched out by keeper, bounces low and solid to an on-rushing Rafael just outside the box who thumps it low and hard into the net.
Aesthetics 9 out of 10. The sheer pluck of volleying a ball as pacey as that, considering the degree of difficulty, with such skill was breathtaking.
Surprise 10 out of 10. Casting aside the fact that Rafael is a defender--this was actually a well placed punch out by the Rangers keeper, not the kind we still see from his counterpart, for instance. (Sorry. Bitter.) Rafael's vision in seeing a small opportunity and taking it was magnificent.
Significance 7 out of 10. This was the first goal in a win for a club that is trying to win the title, so that counts for a lot. But...they were probably going to win anyway. Total: 26.
Cisse, Sunday, 42 mins, St James' Park: Keeper hoofs it up the pitch at an angle, matched pairs of attackers and defenders in pursuit, a few yards outside the box, ball sits up for Cisse who thumps it into the goal.
Aesthetics 9 out of 10. Funny. It’s a volley but otherwise completely different from Rafael's, yet gets the same score. This is a proper British goal and a magnificent take by Cisse. Defense could have done better in closing down though.
Surprise 10 out of 10. It was a proper British goal, as I said, because this tactic usually results in either a clearance or a shot 7 rows up in the stands. If you were watching, it was because anything is possible with Cisse (except a tap-in).
Significance 3 out of 10. Afraid this is where it comes apart. This goal gave the Magpies the lead, but they conceded again before eventually winning 4-2. The victory may help ensure their safety, but that was never really in danger anyway. Still a respectable 22.
Bale, Monday, 90 mins, Upton Park. Rushes onto a nothing ball at midfield to turn it into an opportunity. Passes off, gets fouled for his trouble, referee gives advantage, gets up, gets the ball back yards outside the box, pushes to his left and angles it with pace into the net.
Aesthetics 10 out of 10. Where to start? The impetus for the opportunity comes solely from him. He resets himself after the foul with none of the imaginary card-waving antics we're so accustomed to. And then there's the insouciance with which he takes the chance. There's no flaw to be found here.
Surprise 10 out of 10. This is probably a 10 even if we just count the strike itself--he has the time and space because the defense isn't expecting a try from this range. But when you factor in how the play begins, it's true out-of-nowhere territory.
Significance 10 out of 10. Last action before stoppage time in a game won by a club with Champions League aspirations. This is how you get a perfect 30 in CLASS.