Eh?! The 15 random players who scored their ONLY Premier League goal against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal
Here’s a fun fact: the first person to score a Premier League goal against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal was Vinnie Jones. While the Wimbledon midfielder and future Juggernaut didn’t score many, it was he who broke the seal for English league football in November 1996’s 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park, following clean sheets in Wenger’s first three fixtures.
Three months later, Vinnie popped up again. Having caused mirth in the Highbury tunnel with his foul-mouthed call to arms, Jones volleyed home the only goal as the Dons beat their high-flying hosts 1-0.
Why did Jones pick on Wenger? Was the infamous hard man bullying the nerdy new kid in glasses, and did he later feel so guilty that he’d pretend to be an Arsenal fan in U.S. Sherlock-up drama Elementary? Or was it just the start of a bizarre trend that has seen Wenger’s Arsenal let in goals from Premier League players not known for owning a pair of shooting boots?
Darren Carter. Ionel Ganea. Danny Fox. They all found the Gunners’ net in Premier League encounters, as did a selection of striking flops and plenty of players who simply scored rarely – Owen Hargreaves, for one. Andreas Lund and Andrej Kramaric each scored one of their two Premier League goals against Arsenal, and it took David Healy less than a minute on debut.
Some players even seem to save them up. Arsenal were the opponents for all three of Sam Clucas’s Swansea goals to date. Three of Younes Kaboul’s 12 Premier League goals came against them, and for three different clubs, while Daniel Cousin shot down the Gunners for two of his own four.
And then there’s this lot below. No fewer than 15 – fifteen! – players scored their only Premier League goal against Wenger’s Arsenal. That’s an average of one every season-and-a-half, although it’s a trend that is increasingly popular among millennial footballers: three cases in the first 13 years of the Frenchman’s tenure were followed by 12 in the last eight.
Was Wenger unlucky that these players all chose Arsenal as their only victims? Judge for yourself.
Lee Briscoe (Sept 26, 1998)
Briscoe’s excellent strike came with classic Barry Davies commentary: “Briscoe… yes!” – followed by 20 seconds of silence, allowing viewers to hear the Hillsborough crowd celebrate an 89th-minute winner over the reigning champions. It’s hard to imagine a commentator taking this approach now.
Sadly, Briscoe’s only Sheffield Wednesday goal was somewhat overshadowed by Paolo Di Canio pushing over referee Paul Alcock in the same game. Briscoe would later score a few for Burnley outside the top flight, where there were no tempestuous Romans to upstage him.
Agustin Delgado (Nov 23, 2002)
Enner Valencia wasn’t the first Ecuadorian forward to swap Mexican football for the Premier League only to leave his goals behind. Delgado is La Tri’s all-time top scorer, yet his three years with Southampton – amid the distractions of Ecuador’s first World Cup, his own injury woes and a spectacular falling-out with Saints manager Gordon Strachan – brought only one league goal.
That goal did help Southampton to beat the Double-holders 3-2, mind. The Premier League don’t even attribute the goal to him, but we’re feeling generous.
Nourredine Naybet (Nov 13, 2004)
At White Hart Lane for his only north London derby, the Moroccan defender gave Spurs a 1-0 lead shortly before half-time. They lost 5-4. That escalated quickly, as the meme insists.
Naybet did score another goal against Arsenal, albeit while playing for Deportivo. Wait, this is definitely Naybet and not Nayim we’re talking about, right?
Danny Pugh (Feb 27, 2010)
After a five-year amnesty for Wenger, Pugh was the first in a deluge of players who wanted the Arsenal boss to have a front-row seat for the only goal in their respective Premier League careers.
The Stoke midfielder opened the scoring – from a Rory Delap long throw, naturally – but Arsenal triumphed 3-1 in a game remembered for the horrific injury to a 19-year-old Aaron Ramsey after a foul by Ryan Shawcross. In touching tribute, Stoke fans have booed Ramsey in every meeting since.
Gonzalo Jara (Sept 25, 2010)
In his right-back days, a younger Jara got his name on the scoresheet as Roberto Di Matteo’s West Brom took a 3-0 lead at the Emirates, holding on to win 3-2. Sticking to the late-era Wenger brand, Arsenal made this bafflingly easy for him.
— Arsenal Chile (@ArsenalChile) November 21, 2015
Cheick Tioté (Feb 5, 2011)
Wenger was on the receiving end of perhaps the Premier League’s best and most famous strike from a one-goal man. Tioté played in 138 top-flight matches for Newcastle, 10 of them against Arsenal, and his only goal was a superb volley in the 87th minute to seal a ridiculous comeback.
There’s no excusing Arsenal’s laxity in losing the four-goal lead they’d held for nearly half of the match, from the 26th minute to the 68th. But when someone thwacks home this peach for the fourth and final goal of his career, you know, too, that it’s just not your day.
Tragically, Tioté passed away last year after collapsing in a training session with Beijing Enterprises. He was 30 years old.
Samba Diakité (March 31, 2012)
The Malian midfielder’s sweetly-hit strike was doubly valuable: it gave QPR a 2-1 win that’d prove vital in their relegation escape, and – despite his seven bookings in nine games and a red card on debut – it probably contributed to his loan being turned into a four-year contract that summer.
In those four years, Diakité made 16 appearances in all competitions.