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Ranking the top 20 volleys in Premier League history

Sports Mole counts down the top 20 volleys in Premier League history on the anniversary of Robin van Persie's title-winning strike for Man Utd against Aston Villa.

Is there a more satisfying sight in football than a sweetly-struck volley ripping into the back of the net?

Every fan has their favourite type of goal, from long-range screamers to carefully crafted team efforts, and first-time volleys will be high on the list for many.

The Premier League has naturally seen many stunning volleys during its existence, and Robin van Persie scored one of the most memorable on this day seven years ago.

The Dutchman watched a long pass from Wayne Rooney drop over his shoulder before unleashing a perfectly-struck effort past Brad Guzan - a goal which helped Manchester United to a victory over Aston Villa which secured their 20th and most recent top-flight crown.

Manchester United's Robin van Persie scores against Aston Villa in 2013© Reuters

Here, to mark the anniversary of the strike, Sports Mole counts down the top 20 volleys in Premier League history.

There are some rules, though:

- Every goal must be a first-time volley. No half-volleys or self-setups allowed.
- Bicycle kicks are not included (sorry Crouchy) - they deserve their own countdown.

Anyway, without further ado, here are our 20 greatest Premier League volleys ever - argue away in the comments section!

20. Matthew Taylor - Portsmouth (vs. Everton, 2006-07)

Certainly one of the most spectacular strikes on the list, and probably the one from furthest out too. However, the goalkeeper was out of position and the way the ball popped up for Matty Taylor was less challenging than many others, hence only making 20th spot.

It was certainly not a fluke, though - the Portsmouth man scored a similar half-volley just a year prior.

19. Cheick Tiote - Newcastle United (vs. Arsenal, 2010-11)

When it comes to unlikely names on this list, Cheick Tiote is right up there. This was the midfielder's only goal for Newcastle and tragically the last professional goal he would ever score before suffering a fatal heart attack during a training session.

It is one no Newcastle fan will forget, though - not only was it spectacular in its own right, but it also sealed an astonishing comeback from 4-0 down to 4-4 against the might of Arsenal.

18. Alan Shearer - Newcastle United (vs. Aston Villa, 2001-02)

A much more familiar goalscoring hero for the Magpies, Alan Shearer's first entry on this list was all about technique and finesse.

The angle was against the Premier League's all-time record scorer as the ball was floated over from the left, but he simply guided it into the opposite top corner to leave even a goalkeeper of Peter Schmeichel's standing rooted to the spot.

17. Paul Scholes - Manchester United (vs. Bradford City, 1999-00)

A goal which looks simple enough until you try it yourself (and we've all tried it). Like Shearer, this is not Paul Scholes's only entry on the list.

For a goal like this there is plenty which needs to be perfect - the pass (and there were few better than David Beckham to provide it), the timing, the connection and a defence willing to leave a player like Scholes unmarked on the edge of the area. All of those attributes came together for United against Bradford 20 years ago.

16. Alex Tettey - Norwich City (vs. Sunderland, 2013-14)

An under-appreciated volley in the Premier League annals - Norwich had little to cheer during their doomed 2013-14 campaign, but Alex Tettey's volley gave them a moment to remember.

The midfielder did not look settled at all as he approached the dropping ball and, even when he struck it, his body position seemed to be all wrong. That did not prevent him from arrowing a stunning 35-yard strike past the keeper, though.

15. Lilian Nalis - Leicester City (vs. Leeds United, 2003-04)

Remember the name? Probably not. Remember the volley? Absolutely.

Lilian Nalis scored just one Premier League goal for Leicester, but what a goal it was. Leeds probably thought that they had cleared the initial danger as the ball dropped to the French midfielder, but he sent it back with interest.

14. Tugay - Blackburn Rovers (vs. Tottenham, 2006-07)

Tugay was on the wrong side of 30 when he joined Blackburn in 2001 but went on to become a club legend during his eight-year stay at Ewood Park - largely due to the number of spectacular goals he scored.

Perhaps the best of the lot came at the tender age of 36, when he caught a dropping ball perfectly to leave Tottenham's defence helpless.

13. Laurent Robert - Newcastle United (vs. Tottenham, 2003-04)

Another European midfielder who built a cult hero status based largely on stunning long-range strikes, Laurent Robert's fearsome shot power was perhaps best demonstrated with this volley.

The Frenchman was on the stretch as the ball dropped onto his deadly left foot, but he still caught it perfectly, with Tottenham again the team on the receiving end.

12. Muzzy Izzet - Leicester City (vs. Tottenham, 1998-99)

Poor old Tottenham - they have been on the wrong end of some incredible volleys down the years, and this one is from another cult hero.

Muzzy Izzet's tops Tugay and Roberts by virtue of being fired into the opposite corner, though, leaving the keeper no chance despite his best efforts.

11. Jermain Defoe - Sunderland (vs. Newcastle, 2014-15)

The best Tyne-Wear derby goal in Premier League history? There is certainly a strong case for that argument as Jermain Defoe arrowed his volley into the top corner for Sunderland against Newcastle.

The prolific striker watched the ball drop onto his weaker foot, but still felt confident enough to try his luck and duly sent the Mackems into raptures.

10. Gareth Bale - Tottenham Hotspur (vs. Stoke City, 2010-11)

Gareth Bale was nigh-on unstoppable at his best for Tottenham in the early 2010s, and this volley is right up there with his best goals for the club.

This one is all about technique, with Bale setting himself and meeting the ball high before sending it into the postage stamp of the top corner.

9. Alan Shearer - Newcastle United (vs. Everton, 2002-03)

While technically-sound volleys like Bale's can be a thing of beauty, sometimes a thumping strike is much more satisfying. That is not to say that Shearer's second entry on this list was any less impressive technically than it was pleasing aesthetically, though.

The former England skipper scored 260 goals in the Premier League, a tally no-one has come close to matching, but this may well be the very best of the lot.

8. Wayne Rooney - Manchester United (vs. Newcastle, 2004-05)

Speaking of thumping volleys, this one was born out of pure frustration as Wayne Rooney - fresh from an argument with the referee - blasted an unstoppable effort into the top corner.

By this stage the England man had already established himself as a prodigious talent, but this strike was one of the first in a long list of truly great goals during his Premier League career.

7. Danny Rose - Tottenham Hotspur (vs. Arsenal, 2009-10)

Has there ever been a better debut goal? Has there ever been a better North London derby goal? The occasion matched the strike when Spurs met Arsenal in 2009-10, with a young Danny Rose announcing himself on the scene in unforgettable fashion just nine minutes into his first top-flight appearance.

Yes, the goalkeeper was out of position and may have saved it had he not just punched the ball clear, but you cannot take anything away from the strike.

6. Paolo Di Canio - West Ham United (vs. Wimbledon, 1999-00)

Narrowly, and perhaps controversially, missing out on the top five is Paolo Di Canio's iconic scissor kick for West Ham against Wimbledon in 1999-00.

The mercurial Italian showed flashes of brilliance during his time in the Premier League, and none more so than here as he produced a goal the like of which is rarely even thought of, yet alone successfully carried out from such an angle.

5. Robin van Persie - Manchester United (vs. Aston Villa, 2012-13)

A goal befitting of the occasion - Rooney's pass was inch-perfect for Van Persie, but most would have taken a touch rather than taking on such a technically-difficult strike first time.

Van Persie connected with it perfectly, though, putting the icing on an incredible individual campaign which went a long way to ensuring that Sir Alex Ferguson ended his Manchester United reign with a 13th Premier League crown.

4. Andros Townsend - Crystal Palace (vs. Manchester City, 2018-19)

It usually takes something special to beat Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, and Andros Townsend certainly provided that as Crystal Palace stunned the champions at the Etihad Stadium in 2018-19.

The height at which he met the ball, the power with which he struck it and the trajectory at which it flew into the top corner were all out of the very top drawer, ensuring that the most recent goal in this list immediately shot into the top five.

3. Tony Yeboah - Leeds United (vs. Liverpool, 1995-96)

From the newest on the list to the oldest - Tony Yeboah is the OG when it comes to Premier League volleys, although this is the only one which qualifies under our parameters.

A sweetly-struck volley is satisfying enough on its own, but throwing the underside of the crossbar into the equation only adds to that. Yeboah's strike remains the standard by which all subsequent Premier League volleys are judged.

2. Robin van Persie - Arsenal (vs. Charlton Athletic, 2006-07)

With two entries in the top five, Van Persie may well have usurped Yeboah as the Premier League's volley-meister general. Again, technique reigns with this one, although on this occasion he had no time to set himself as he met the ball at near-shoulder height while running at full pace.

Of all the volleys on this list, this is perhaps the most difficult to replicate.

1. Paul Scholes - Manchester United (vs. Aston Villa, 2006-07)

A volley with pretty much everything; perfect technique, plenty of power and going in off the underside of the crossbar. The ball came down from such a height that a coating of snow may have been dislodged as Scholes swung his boot at it in ludicrously languid fashion.

Even Scholes himself looked amazed at the result as the unstoppable volley tore into the back of the net via the woodwork - a sensational strike which deserves its status as the greatest Premier League volley of all time.

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