With the summer transfer window in full swing and players making big-money moves to the top clubs, we’re going to see a lot of new faces on Match of the Day next month. Amongst those making their Premier League debuts are Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay, Roberto Firmino, and Georginio Wijnaldum to name but a few, while Raheem Sterling, James Milner, Radamel Falcao, and Petr Cech all have debuts to make with their new clubs.
Some will succeed, and some will likely fail. Who knows, some might even have the best game of their lives on their first appearances for their new clubs! If they’re good enough, perhaps they might even make it into a list like this some day – Goals, Goals, Goals! The best debut goals ever scored!
13 – Adrian Mutu – Chelsea 2003
Adrian Mutu scored this cracking goal against Leicester after becoming one of the first Roman Abramovic spending spree signings at Chelsea. Pity the rest of his Blues career went downhill from day one!
12 – Raúl’s Real Derby Rout – 1994
Spanish legend Raúl played with Atletico Madrid’s youth academy, before the team decided they didn’t want him and left him out with the bins so their neighbours could pick him up. Only, he went on to score on his home debut against Atleti, and became one of the best goalscorers of all time. Oops…
11 – Sergio Aguero’s City Start – 2011
The Argentinian’s City career has been littered with goals to date, none more important than the end-of-season title-winning strike against QPR a couple of years ago. But this goal against Swansea City is where it all started for the ex-Atletico man!
10 – Paulo Wanchope’s Legs of Rubber – 1997
Paulo Wanchope was known for his silky skills, and perhaps they caught Manchester United off guard when he hadn’t ever played for Derby County prior to this day in 1997 when the Costa Rican ran rings around their defence to knock in this wonder goal! Derby won the game 2-3 in Old Trafford!
9 – Mario Stanic – Chelsea 2000
When West Ham gave Mario Stanic far too much time in the middle of the park, the Croat made them pay dearly. What a goal this was from the versatile player!
8 – Sejad Salihovic’s 40-yard belter – 2015
Only last month did Salihovic, of Chinese side Guizhou Renh, score this thunderbastard of a goal. On first sight it’s not even exactly clear if the ball crossed the line after crashing on the underside of the crossbar, but upon replays it’s shown to have been a fair goal. And what a goal it was!
7 – Danny Rose’s North London Derby Screamer – 2010
Although Danny Rose had made his Spurs debut in the FA Cup before this, his first league game came in the biggest fixture of the year against Arsenal! This thunderous strike helped Tottenham on their way to a 2-1 win over the old enemy and is a debut that will be long remembered by the Spurs faithful!
6 – Ronaldinho Says Hello To Camp Nou In Style – 2003
We may be cheating a little with this one, as it was only Ronnie’s home debut, but a debut nonetheless. Trailing 1-0 to a Jose Antonio Reyes penalty for Sevilla, Ronaldinho collected the ball in his own half from a hairy-headed Victor Valdes before setting off to score one of the most beautiful goals ever, rounding two defenders and smacking the ball into the top corner!
5 – Alvaro Recoba’s Sensational Debut Goals – 1997
Brought on with only ten minutes remaining in the game, with his side losing 1-0, Alvaro Recoba had one of the most memorable debuts of all time in 1997. The Uruguayan scored two goals to give the Nerazzuri the win in what was incidentally also Ronaldo’s Inter debut!
4 – Stan Collymore Lifts Bradford – 2000
Another derby debut goal! This stunning overhead strike from Stan Collymore helped Bradford earn a point against West Yorkshire rivals Leeds United.
3 – Wayne Rooney Announces Himself To United Fans – 2004
Wayne Rooney’s big-money move to Man United at the age of 18 “raised a few eyebrows” in the words of Alex Ferguson, but the youngster made his £25 million fee look a bargain on the night of his debut. In the world’s biggest club competition, at one of the world’s biggest clubs, what could this plucky former Everton striker muster? Only a hat trick (and an assist!) to announce himself to the Old Trafford crowd!
2 – Federico Macheda Writes His Name In History – 2008
Remember the name Federico Macheda? Manchester United fans certainly do! Probably Liverpool fans too… The Italian forward made his first team debut for the Red Devils against Aston Villa, late into the season, and scored a goal that many fans remember as the goal that ‘essentially’ handed them the title. Nowadays, Macheda is still playing with Cardiff City, at the age of 23…
1 – Mark Oxley’s Hibs Winner – And he’s a goalkeeper! – 2014
Mark Oxley’s first league game for Hibernian came on the opening day of the season last year, at home against Livingston. Hibs won the game 2-1, with the winner coming from Mark Oxley – their newly signed goalkeeper!
And finally, just for laughs…
Carl Jenkinson’s Nightmare OG – 2011
Carl Jenkinson was a youngster snapped up by Arsenal at the time their defensive woes were at their worst. When fans saw this horror show from the ex-Charlton player, they could only hold their heads in their hands and worry about what Wenger had done wasting so much money on him. Luckily for Gunners fans, Jenkinson didn’t repeat the trick on his competitive debut against Udinese in their hugely important Champions League qualifier only a couple of weeks later!
This article was first published on August 9th 2015.
The Premier League 2015/16 kicked off yesterday, and as always after a summer of spending we’ve been given a host of new faces to the league! Here we take a look at who’s had the biggest impacts on their Premier League debuts!
7. Matteo Darmian – Manchester United
Louis van Gaal’s new Italian right back played the first 81 minutes of the new campaign, and an overall solid 81 minutes they were. The defender, who arrived from Torino in July, made no mistakes and looked at ease in the Old Trafford defensive setup.
The 25-year-old looks like he still has a bit to learn about pushing forward and joining – even creating – some attacks for the Red Devils, but first and foremost his job is to defend and he excelled at that in United’s season opener yesterday.
6. Yohan Cabaye – Crystal Palace
One of the league’s most creative players on his day, Yohan Cabaye joined Palace last month in what was a real statement of intent from Alan Pardew – He and the Eagles are looking to push on!
Cabaye enjoyed a fruitful season at Paris Saint-Germain last year, picking up the Ligue 1 title. Cabaye impressed on his Palace debut, and even bagged himself a late goal in their 3-1 domination of newly promoted Norwich City.
5. Georginio Wijnaldum – Newcastle
Toon Army picked up a hidden gem when they signed Wijnaldum from PSV. A tough, physical midfielder, who loves to get forward and score goals, the Dutch international is perfectly suited to the Premier League, meaning Newcastle fans should love him!
He scored a goal in today’s 2-2 stalemate with Southampton, a brilliant header from a well-hit cross.
4. Sergio Romero – Manchester United
Romero was the surprise inclusion in the United team this week after David De Gea was left out of the match day squad with van Gaal citing the keeper’s mentality. Sam Johnstone had played a lot of United’s games in pre-season and on their US Tour, but he was left on the bench in favour of Argentina net minder Sergio Romero, who hadn’t featured for even a minute in the United jersey before yesterday.
The goalkeeper had one early error when he misplaced a pass to his right hand side with the ball trickling out for a Spurs throw in. However, overall his performance was to be applauded. He pulled off some important saves when he needed to, and some impressive stops too. A clean sheet against 31-goal Harry Kane is a good way to start your career at a new club too.
3. Andre Ayew – Swansea
Swansea’s new battling forward had one of the best debuts a player can hope for – especially when that debut comes at the home of the champions, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Ayew got on the scoresheet to cancel out Oscar’s initial opener, and was a handfull for the Blues’ backline for the entire game.
The Ghana international looked like he had been a Swansea player for a number of years, rather than a number of weeks. He fit into the team brilliantly, and seemed to thrive in the pace and physicality of the league. He’ll likely have a very good season based on this debut!
2. Rudy Gestede – Aston Villa
Aston Villa had a task on their hands after the departure of Christian Benteke, who racked up 42 Premier League goals for the Villains during his time there! In came Rudy Gestede, who was making waves in the Championship for some time with Blackburn Rovers. Sherwood had already praised the Benin international’s ability in the air before he took to the pitch, and Sherwood was made to look a genius after the win against newly promoted Bournemouth!
Gestede entered the game for another new signing, Jordan Ayew, with half an hour remaining. Gestede endeared himself to the Villa fans straight away with a brilliant headed goal from a corner in a tricky tie against a relatively unknown team!
1. Reece Oxford – West Ham
Question: Where was World Cup winner and £42.5 million man Mesut Ozil today? Answer: In 16-year-old Reece Oxford’s pocket all day!
What a performance from the young man! Oxford made his league debut today for West Ham in a brilliant 0-2 win in the Emirates Stadium thanks to goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate. Reece Oxford had a stunning debut in the middle of the park, breaking up Gunners’ play for the 80 minutes he was on the pitch. Just like that – a star is born!
This article was first published on August 10th 2015
A couple of weeks ago saw the transfer of Fabian Delph from Aston Villa to Manchester City, merely days after the player released a statement on Villa’s club website announcing he was going nowhere, and a deal to City was out of the question. The statement came amidst much speculation that the England star was about to pack his bags, and was designed to reassure the Villa faithful that their captain was fully intent on leading ‘this great club’ to glory the coming season.
Naturally, fans felt betrayed. Not for leaving to go to a better team, on a higher salary – but for the way he left their club. Fans can understand that footballers have families to look after, which was Delph’s cited reason for his U-turn, but aren’t as understanding when the player pledges their future to the team, only to soon after turn their back on them!
Here are a few other players that caused a storm of controversy after telling fans they wouldn’t leave, before jumping ship!
Wayne Rooney – Everton to Manchester United
Manchester United’s captain grew up in Croxteth, Liverpool, as an Everton fan through and through. He wore the blue jersey before he even signed for the club, and was playing with their under 19s by the time he was just 15.
Wayne Rooney makes this list for foolishly revealing a t-shirt reading “Once a Blue Always a Blue” in celebration after scoring a goal for his boyhood club. Before long, he was the subject of one of the biggest transfers for a teenager ever, signing for Manchester United for £25.6 million at the age of 18.
Sol Campbell – Tottenham to Arsenal
Sol Campbell was the rock at the heart of the Spurs defence for many years. He was on course to become a club legend, having already made his way from academy to captaincy. He committed his future and pledged his allegiance to the Tottenham cause on many occasions with the eyes of the world watching him. Here he is telling a reporter on live television that he would be staying at the club:
After a tense standoff between Campbell and Tottenham, the player never signed a new deal at the club, and hopped on his bike to their closest rival – Arsenal!
Campbell is even quoted as going as far as saying: “Results in these fixtures can affect some supporters’ seasons. I think it would upset all the Spurs fans if I went to Arsenal, not that I am going to.”
Mo Johnston – Celtic to Rangers
Johnston didn’t move directly across the Old Firm divide, but played for years for Celtic before heading to Nantes. After a couple of years in France, it was time for Johnston to head back to the Hoops, and a press conference was set up in which he declared his love for the green and whites.
Celtic even sold Frank McAvennie, the striker that was supposed to be replaced by Johnston. Instead, days later, Mo was a Rangers player, after they offered him a fatter contract!
Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea
Fernando Torres’s words in the summer of 2010 were designed to reassure all Liverpool fans that he was going nowhere. A new contract was signed and the Spanish striker said:
“I’m really really happy to be back and stay with my team-mates. Of course my commitment and loyalty to the club and the fans is the same since the first day I signed here. I’m looking forward to the challenge of the next year.”
Fast forward to January 2011 and the Atletico man hands in a transfer request at Anfield after a £40 million bid by Chelsea is rejected! Before the closing of that window, Torres would become a Chelsea player, for a reported fee of around £50 million.
Manuel Neuer – Schalke to Bayern
The world’s best goalkeeper arrived at Bayern Munich under a heavy cloud of controversy, after giving his word to fans that he loves Schalke and wouldn’t be leaving. Schalke and Bayern share a heated rivalry too, one which led to a very cold welcome to Bayern from the Munich faithful for the goalkeeper. His new fans went as far as making him sign conduct agreements, which said he wasn’t allowed to kiss the crest amongst other things!
“I love Schalke. I have always given everything for this club. This club is a piece of home for me and will remain so for sure,” – these were the words of the to-be Bayern Munich marquee signing of the summer of 2011. After numerous league titles and even a treble in 2012/13, we think Bayern fans have forgiven him for his Schalke past.
Mario Gotze – Dortmund to Bayern
Another highly rated German star heading from one Bundesliga club to the giants Bayern Munich. Mario Gotze was the jewel in the crown of Jurgen Klopp’s exhilarating Dortmund team that made it to the Champions League Final in 2012/13. The 20-year-old added a new dimension of attacking talent that saw Dortmund take Europe by total surprise.
Gotze was with Dortmund from age eight to age 21, and at the time Dortmund were building an exciting young team. “Everyone knows how happy I am here and I want to be part of this project,” he said, quoted when signing a new deal only a year before leaving the club!
Franco Di Santo – Werder Bremen to Schalke
Franco Di Santo, who had one of the most forgettable Premier League careers ever between Chelsea, Blackburn, and Wigan, has finally found his feet in professional football in Germany. The Italian enjoyed two relatively successful years at Werder Bremen, and was starting to become something of a fan favourite when he played in a pre-season game with fans a couple of weeks ago, telling them how much he loves it at the club and that he was going nowhere.
Fast forward two days, and he was announced as a Schalke player, much to the annoyance of Bremen fans. “It was agreed that he would let us know early on if he would like to stay or not,” Werder Bremen manager Thomas Eichin said. “Now everything has happened very, very quickly and I am anything but impressed with this behaviour.”
A horrendous error from Belgium under-17s net-minder Jens Teunckens saw his team knocked out of the under-17 World Cup at the semi final stage to Mali. It was one of those one-in-a-million mistakes that simply doesn’t have an explanation – as you can see below.
Since the howler, young Teunckens has received support from none other than Manchester City and Belgium captain Vincent Kompany.
Kompany wrote to the goalkeeper: “Nobody is perfect. Head up and on to the next one. Congratulations to the whole team.”
But also included in the message was Kompany’s true class – a video from an own goal of his from a few years ago, a spectacular cock-up of an own goal against Fulham!
Hopefully the message cheered the young shot-stopper up, as Kompany sets the example for club and country captains everywhere.
This article was first published on November 25th 2015.
A quick glance at the Premier League table this week and you’d be forgiven for wanting to book an eye test at your local opticians – yes, Leicester City really are top of the pile. The fact that this time last year they were sitting 20th in the Premier League shows perfectly how much of an incredible U-turn they’ve taken.
Since early April this year, no team has won more Premier League points than the Foxes. By that stage they were gearing up for their miraculous escape from the drop zone, before taking English football by storm this campaign. They are truly a delight of the 2015/16 football season, the surprise package that has stunned the world.
They aren’t the first surprise package to make global audiences sit up and take notice however. Surprise packages come in many different shapes and sizes, with some going on to fulfil their promises, and others gloriously failing. Here, we’ve taken a look back at some of football’s greatest ever surprise packages!
Fulham’s 2009/10 Europa League Season
Roy Hodgson’s Fulham pulled off one of the most spectacular European runs seen in recent times. A total of 19 games were played in the campaign, and what’s more they were probably considered underdogs in every round of the competition bar third qualifying round and playoff.
Roma topped their Group E, something of course to be expected from one of Europe’s bigger teams. Champions League regulars FC Basel of Switzerland were also contesting for the knockout round, and the group stage boiled down to a crunch match away to Basel – winner goes through. Bobby Zamora scored a brace right before the half time whistle to get them on their way.
Shakhtar Donetsk were first up in the knockout stage, before one of the most incredible ties the continent has ever seen with Juventus. The Old Lady stormed to a 3-1 win in Turin, before taking a 2nd minute 1-0 lead in London to cancel out Fulham’s away goal. The Craven Cottage crowd couldn’t believe their eyes when their side went 2-1 up before the half, and Clint Dempsey put the icing on the cake by completing the 4-1 turnaround with just eight minutes left on the clock.
Bundesliga’s Wolfsburg and Hamburg were then taken care of in the quarter and semi finals respectively, and an all-Premier League matchup look possible in the final before Atletico Madrid eventually overcame Liverpool in the other semi. Alas, that’s as far as the dream would go.
Simon Davies offered hope and excitement when he equalised Diego Forlan’s opener, but the masterful Uruguayan would decide the game late in extra time in the Spanish side’s favour.
Porto’s 2003/04 Champions League Win
In the summer of 2003, bookmakers had Porto, managed by a largely unknown Jose Mourinho, at 50/1 to win the Champions League that season. It would be a season that would change football and largely shape the landscape of the European game for the next decade, and perhaps beyond. We’ll have to wait and see, for that.
A defining image of one of the most important European campaigns in recent history is that of the young Portuguese coach galloping down the Old Trafford touchline and leaping in the air in celebration following their 90th minute second leg equaliser. Without the goal, they would have been dumped out at the first knockout round.
The next rounds saw them dispatch Lyon, who were fuelled with significant financial backing, and Deportivo La Coruña, just about hitting the end of their glory days and who progressed to the semi final even after losing their first leg quarter final 4-1 to AC Milan.
In actual fact, what would have been even more surprising about this European season would be if Monaco had beaten Porto in the final. Monaco were priced at 66/1 before the tournament to eventually lift the trophy, even higher priced than the eventual surprise winners!
Wigan’s 2012/13 FA Cup
A list of major honours won by Wigan Athletic FC, barring league titles below the top tier: 2012/13 FA Cup. That is all.
To say that Wigan were underdogs would be a massive understatement. They faced up against a Manchester City team that were reeling from just having given up the Premier League title to rivals Manchester United. However, having beaten Chelsea in the semi final, they gave themselves the chance to end the season not without silverware. All that stood in their way was Wigan, who were relegated from the Premier League that season.
Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure, David Silva, and Samir Nasri are just some of the names City could boast in their star-studded starting XI. As in turned out for Roberto Martinez’s men, that wouldn’t be a problem!
As if reaching 90 minutes without seeing City put at least one past Joel Robles was surprising enough, Ben Watson’s 91st minute strike past Joe Hart at the opposite end was even more surprising! City stunned, and the Latics were in raptures. Easily the greatest day in Wigan Athletic’s 83 year history.
Denmark’s Euro ’92 Fairytale
Denmark didn’t qualify for the 1992 European Championships. They missed out by one agonising point to a ferocious Yugoslavia team. So when the summer came round that year, where were the Danish international players? On the beach, on holiday of course!
With just over one week to go before the start of the tournament, Yugoslavia were forced to pull out due to the civil war that tore the country apart. Denmark were hastily phoned and invited to the party just across the bridge in Sweden.
Thrown into the group with hosts Sweden, alongside the talented England and France sides, Denmark were expected mostly just to make up the numbers. A draw with England, a loss to Sweden, and no goals scored spelled disaster for the Danes heading into their winner-goes-through final group game with France. Remarkably, Denmark went through with a goal ten minutes from time.
Henrik Larsen (not to be confused with Sweden’s striker who donned the Celtic and Barcelona jerseys in his career) was the hero against France, and was the hero against the Netherlands in the semi. Denis Bergkamp and Frank Rijkaard were on the scoresheet, but once Marco van Basten’s penalty was saved in the shootout, Denmark had the chance to send themselves into the final – and duly took it.
A dominant and resourceful 2-0 win over Germany in the final confirmed to the world that fairytales do indeed exist.
Norwich’s Best Ever Premier League Season – 1992/93
The inaugural Premier League season saw the regular favourites set the pace, along with one very surprising addition. They were one of the favourites to suffer the dreaded drop before a ball was kicked, but not long before Christmas, Norwich City held an 8-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Things looked bleak for the Canaries after they sold their star striker Robert Fleck to Chelsea for £2.1 million, but the £800,000 arrival from Manchester United, Mark Robins, proved an adequate replacement as the season went on, finishing with a total of 15 league goals to his name.
Coming to the end of the season, Norwich were still in the hunt for the first ever Premier League title, to the bewilderment of every onlooker. However, one win and three losses in April, including a 1-3 reverse at home to title rivals and eventual champions Manchester United, proved too much for Norwich to come back from. They eventually finished 3rd, slipping behind Aston Villa in the table too. Nobody will ever forget that wonderful Carrow Road season!
The fun didn’t stop there, however, as their UEFA Cup exploits the following season saw them defeat powerhouses Bayern Munich! They were halted in the third round with a 2-0 aggregate loss to Italian side Inter though.
Premier League Talking Points – Week 9
The first game of the weekend was at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace took on Arsenal in their first game following Ian Holloway’s departure from the club. Following the victory over Norwich City last week it was assumed that the Gunners would get their biggest win of the season against a Palace side that was five points from safety already.
The game started as expected, Arsenal dominated a large percentage of the possession as Palace just sat back and allowed the league leaders to pass the ball in front of them. A groin injury to midfielder Mathieu Flamini however turned the half on its head when he was taken off for Serge Gnabry.
After this, Palace began to press the ball, captain Mile Jedinak and Kagisho Dikgacoi the most influential players for Palace, and despite Arsenal’s far superior possession, they were unable to actually create any clear cut chances. The first shot on target happened to come from a former Gooner favourite, Marouane Chamakh. Towards the end of the half Arsenal were constantly split open at the back from set pieces and were lucky not to go in behind.
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Premier League talking points – Week 8
It’s safe to say that it was an afternoon which David Marshall will want to forget quickly. Chelsea were able to equalise via a goal which has resulted in many blowing the dust off their FA rule book to test its legality (the more technology savvy just downloaded the PDF which is available on the FA’s website) after Samuel Eto’o stole the ball from Marshall when the Cardiff keeper bounced it which should have been deemed as a foul.
On the flip side however, you could argue that Marshall should not have been on the pitch at all, after clearly handling the ball outside of his area – which shows there may be some truth in the whole “football evens itself out” spiel after all.
After missing two clear violations of the rules though, it’s safe to say Anthony Taylor and his assistants are the ones who had a bad day at the office.