I cannot stop watching Victor Wanyama kill a ball. I must have seen it hundreds of times now. It’s possible that I’ve scraped quadruple digits.
Tottenham were away to Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, and played a game that was mostly even. It was a 2-2 draw that told us nothing about where the two teams will finish this season, and as a fan of a team with designs on Champions League qualification that is neither Liverpool nor Tottenham, that was perfect. But on an instinctual level—if you were watching soccer to watch soccer—you couldn’t lie to yourself about the entertainment value, and neither will I. Four goals, loads of questionable refereeing decisions, and plenty of intrigue. You might even forgive head referee Jon Moss his trespasses—awarding a penalty to Harry Kane in the 87th minute, deferring to his line judge to give another in the 95th—since the Kop was so loud and full-throated that the Liverpool faithful might’ve distorted both hearing and sight for anyone on the field.
But to the point of this post, WANYAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA— [passes out].
First off, I’m ashamed of every other time I’ve used the word “screamer.” It’s typically facile, with a finish like this, to say that if the net weren’t there he might’ve killed someone in the stands, but this time it legitimately saved at least one person’s life.
Most of the postgame discussion surrounding this game has been about the officiating, and that’s a shame because this is definitely the best goal I have ever seen in my life. No, I haven’t thought of whichever goal you’re talking about now; it happened before this one, which means that it doesn’t matter and I’ve already forgotten about it. After the 26-year-old Kenyan midfielder made contact, I had to check to see whether the foundations of my house were still intact. Turns out I’d only imagined the violent shaking after I saw Wanyama draw Spurs level the first time. My ears were hot and I felt light-headed. Also my left arm was numb. I checked WebMD, and this is all very normal.
Tottenham still haven’t won anything. The promise of Mauricio Pochettino as a manager is still mostly just promise, but his tactics and application have steadily improved over his four-year tenure, and he seems pretty clear now on who in his side can do what. There’s no helping it: Subbing on a player in the 79th minute of a big game who then uncorks a shot like this in the 80th minute will make you look like the brain genius. Ditto for subbing on Fernando Llorente and Erik Lamela, who then conspired to win the final, controversial, equalizing penalty that everyone on both sides of the debate was so certain about. But back to this goal: It’s definitely the goal of the century, right? It has to be.
OK, fine. That’s a bit much. I just feel so strongly about it. Watch the goal again. What’s so remarkable about it—aside from, you know, the horsepower— is how certain Wanyama is throughout the transaction. Look at the purpose with which he strides into that strike. He gets a step on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the ball sits up perfectly, and honestly, you have to wish Loris Karius good luck from there.
I love every reaction here, too:
The sad Charlie Brown music is playing in Dejan Lovren’s head. Virgil van Dijk is assuming, wrongly, that things can’t get any worse. Oxlade-Chamberlain is following up some limp marking with more limp resignation, and Trent Alexander-Arnold is looking to the line judge for help for whatever reason. Scenes.
Y’know, I was just going to write my about my feelings and things that I saw, but then my colleague Ryan “Abacus” O’Hanlon burst into my office holding this tweet above his head:
Despite going a goal down right from the jump, Spurs managed not to let Liverpool create great counterattack chances.— Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) February 5, 2018
Wanyama's goal the lowest quality xG chance of the match.
Can't score if you don't shoot... pic.twitter.com/vyKjs7C8PG
What this means is that Wanyama’s goal was gold dust, exactly as special and rare as it seemed.
The game had several more ups and downs in store, of course. Mo Salah scored a fantastic Messi-esque goal soon after this, but it’s not what I want to talk about. Rather, I’ll continue talking about the Wanyama goal because people haven’t been doing that enough. Specifically the goal call, in French, which is approximately 10000000000 times better than the one in English.
BUP BUP BUP BUP.
There are so many good gun ad libs; Michael Dapaah filled an entire rap career with them. But they are severely underused as far as soccer commentary goes. Attempting to describe this goal in a group text, I made it as far as ALJDSFLAKSJFLSDJFALSJF. Come to think of it, BUP BUP BUP is exactly what it looked like.
I think I might watch it again, and you should too.