Top 5 Premier League Goals of the Season
As much fun as it is to rank the top goals of the season, it also hurts. There are several world-class goals that end up on the cutting room floor, and they all feel like they deserve a spot. But deciding the best of the best is the ambition, and despite the painful absences, the ones that make the cut are so exceptional that it's worth it.
It was a good year for a screamer in the Premier League, and the top five below -- plus one honorable mention -- are the truly best of them.
Honorable Mention: Henrikh Mkhitaryan's Scorpion
There can't be a list of the top goals without Henrikh Mkhitaryan's scorpion kick against Sunderland. After a goalless and disappointing first few months at Manchester United, Mkhitaryan scored a winner against Tottenham, and he followed it up with a late stunner against Sunderland.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic picks up the ball outside the box with an unbelievable amount of space. Typically, one might expect the legendary Swede to take a touch and try a spectacular effort, but instead Ibra notices Mkhitaryan running in and attempts to pick him out. Like most scorpions, the ball coming in wasn't perfect, but the finish was.
Mkhitaryan sees the ball coming low, and it looks like he is going to attempt a low-header. After realizing the ball's placement, he quickly brings his foot up to perfectly catch the ball with the bottom of his foot, sending the ball flying past Jordan Pickford and into the far corner.
However, the real reason why this goal doesn't properly make this list is the fact that Mkhitaryan was offside when the ball came in. Despite that, a goal is a goal, and the 28-year-old Armenian will be hoping for a better sophomore year in Manchester, but he'll always have this piece of class from this past season.
5. Philippe Coutinho's Gorgeous Free-Kick Against Arsenal
Very few people have an eye for a wonder goal like Coutinho. With the average attacker, it's imperative to disallow them space in the 18-yard box. That warning grows to 30 yards when defending against the 25-year-old, and sometimes, like above, it just doesn't matter.
Despite the distance of roughly 35 yards, Coutinho made it look like a much closer and more threatening position. As Arsenal fumbled to figure out exactly what Liverpool was going to do with this free-kick, Coutinho took his small run-up and unloaded a rocket over the wall and into the corner, impossible to save for even a top goalkeeper such as Petr Cech.
It gave Liverpool an equalizer right before half, preparing them for an entertaining 4-3 win in the season opener. This was just one of Coutinho's stunning finishes en route to a very productive season of 20 goals created in just 28 starts.
4. Eden Hazard Dribbles Through Arsenal
You have to feel bad for Arsenal. Being subject to one of the top goals of the season is one thing, but two? Not too much fun for the Gunners. But Hazard does not have much sympathy when his eyes are on goal, and Arsenal learned that the hard way.
Hazard picks the ball up just past the halfway-line, and almost trips Laurent Koscielny with a quick touch to head for the wing. Francis Coquelin pursues, attempting to out muscle the 5'8" winger, but Hazard holds his own before Coquelin trips up trying to gain leverage. It only gets worse for Koscielny, who has ran back to defend.
Hazard's deft touch and speed at his feet turns around Koscielny, who flails with his back towards the Belgian. Hazard quickly finishes as a few other Arsenal players are in pursuit. After a disappointing season in 2015-16, Hazard fired on all cylinders, creating 21 goals (16 scored with 5 assists) for the Blues.
3. Dimitri Payet's Breathtaking Run Against Middlesbrough
Considering Hazards, effort, it's hard to think that there would be a dribbling-based goal that could be better. Well, Payet had other ideas. The French winger had a troubled six months in West Ham after his revelation of a season the year prior, but he was still able to notch two goals and six assists, including his masterpiece against Middlesbrough.
After receiving a long ball on the counter, Payet takes a small touch to compose before turning towards the touch line and sprinting towards the box. As he approaches, he fakes a cross, sending Marten de Roon to the ground. With two options in the box, Payet realizes he still has space to maneuver. Boro's backline does well to stay solid and not allow an easy pass or shot, which forces Payet to take a different option.
That option being "dribble through the remaining defenders." By the time Payet takes his shot, he's danced around five defenders. He doesn't put the most power behind it, but his placement is perfect, sliding the ball past two defenders and goalkeeper Victor Valdes to equalize for West Ham.
2. Emre Can's Unexpected Bicycle Kick
There is no doubt that Emre Can is an enticing prospect with world-class potential. The 23-year-old German contributed five goals this past season, and he predominantly played as a defensive midfielder while doing so. However, it was his last tally of the season that reminded everyone exactly how much skill Can possesses, with Watford at the unfortunate end of things.
Lucas Leiva notices Can running towards the box from the left side and places a very good ball for Can to possess or head. Can does an exceptional job of realizing where the ball was coming down and rather than attempting to gather and keep the ball under pressure, begins an angled bike, letting his right foot connect and drive the ball into the top corner.
Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes had no chance. The sequence of play was decent, but the moment of brilliance from Can gave Liverpool a 1-0 lead right before half, and it would end up being the game-winner, too. Liverpool needed results down the stretch to secure a top-four finish, and Can's bicycle kick was an emphatic way for the Reds to secure three points on their way to Champions League qualification.
1. Olivier Giroud Rocks the Emirates With a Scorpion
This one looks very similar to Mkhitaryan's, but how is Giroud's goal better? They were both hit near perfectly, and Mkhitaryan probably caught his better. While the Red Devil may have put more velocity on the ball, the build-up play is what separates Giroud's strike and makes it the best goal in the Premier League this season.
Hector Bellerin picks up the ball after a tackle near his own box and attempts to pick out a backtracking Giroud, who flicks the ball perfectly for Granit Xhaka. The Swiss midfielder plays it in front of Alex Iwobi, who plays it further down the wing for Alexis Sanchez. Crystal Palace actually do pretty well on defense, getting five people back against a quick Arsenal counter.
However, a sudden stop by Sanchez allows him the space to find Giroud, who has defenders closing in on either side of him. Giroud swings his foot up, and Arsenal's faithful get to watch the ball hit the crossbar and fall down behind Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
The Frenchman has a knack for a deft flick, but his scorpion kick is definitely his greatest ever goal. While Arsenal and its fans may be soured by the lack of Champions League play next season, this goal is an unforgettable one for the Gunners and for EPL fans worldwide.