We need to talk about Nicolas Jackson’s hat-trick of gloriously shameless goal celebrations
Never mind Tottenham and Chelsea, spare a thought for this humble Planet Football writer on a crisp autumnal morning. How do you make sense of that?
The match between the two London rivals was one for the ages, despite the general absence of quality and decision-making that’d have made Johan Cruyff quit the game and dedicate his huge brain to figure skating.
Five goals were counter-balanced by five disallowed goals. We were treated to 10 cards, a Spurs high-line so brave and doomed you felt like you’d been transported to the first day at the Somme and the tantalising prospect of Gary Neville losing his voice.
Never has a side that’s lost 4-1 at home with two men sent-off been so warmly applauded by their own supporters. On the flip side, never has a side won 4-1 at the home of hated rivals and looked so inept.
Which brings us nicely to Nicolas Jackson.
Signed from Villarreal over the summer, Jackson has been entrusted to lead the line for Chelsea after Christopher Nkunku knackered his knee during pre-season.
With limbs that suggest he’s co-ordinated remotely and dedication to raising the eyebrows of Chelsea supporters into another stratosphere, the Senegal international has flip-flopped between clinical finishing and astonishing misses.
You might call him raw, but that’s an understatement; Jackson is an entire sushi platter. And the 22-year-old made history at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the sh*ttest and most underwhelming hat-trick of all time.
As Spurs doubled down on their suicidal high-line, with Eric Dier visibly puffing on his inhaler whenever Chelsea got the ball, Jackson produced a smorgasbord of sitters.
With the score at 1-1 and Destiny Udogie having just joined Cristian Romero in the naughty corner, Jackson was presented with an open goal and somehow managed to spoon the ball onto the head of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Hojbjerg celebrated like a rugby forward winning a penalty due to a scrum infringement. The Chelsea striker looked as if he wished the pitch was made of quicksand.
Time and again, Chelsea broke the offside trap but considered the act of sticking the ball into the net as uncouth. As unbefitting the level of sophistication to which they aspire.
Mauricio Pochettino spent the entire second half staging an improv tribute to a hyper-active traffic warden, such was the number of arm gestures he got through. Chelsea were f*cking this up.
Eventually, logic prevailed. Raheem Sterling raced through and squared the ball to Jackson to slot home. He added two more in injury time, as the Double-A batteries in Spurs’ legs finally died.
Despite achieving the impressive feat of scoring a hat-trick but never being in contention for Man of the Match, Jackson was determined to milk his moment.
Busting out odes to Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo might have been inappropriate, considering his clod-hopping performance, but it demonstrated a level of shamelessness and cojones that will probably take Jackson far.
He was also pictured blowing kisses to the home supporters after his first effort. He’d definitely hold his own in your banter-sustained WhatsApp chats.
Nicolas Jackson pulled out the Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo celebration in the same game 👉😁 pic.twitter.com/iSaFTMoRLJ
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 7, 2023
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Jackson said: “I am very happy and it has been a difficult time for everybody in the team.
“We are coming back really slowly and happy to have scored three goals. It’s my first hat-trick, so I am happy to have done it with the biggest club in England and everywhere.
“I need to always improve and work harder. We continue working. Tottenham have an amazing stadium and amazing fans, so we needed to fight and win the game.
“It was really difficult as they continued to maintain their line. We have quality players to give us the ball and we won. We were dreaming about winning the big games and the confidence within the team is coming really slowly.”
The 22-year-old had netted just two Premier League goals in nine appearances before Monday’s game, prompting criticism from Alan Shearer who claimed Jackson was not a ‘natural goalscorer’ and said it ‘looks as if he needs a lot of help in that position’.
He won’t get more favourable conditions than Monday night’s piece of absurdist theatre and there’s still plenty for Jackson to improve on – Shearer might have scored 10 against Tottenham’s high line.
But his trio of increasingly shameless celebrations indicate a player with the level of self-belief to take the positives from his performance. If his finishing continues to be as erratic as it was against Tottenham, he’ll need every last ounce of it.
By Michael Lee