Welcome back! Soccer has returned for the 22-23 season and we’ve been greeted with an undeniably intriguing first few weeks: Arsenal at the top of Premier League standings while United and Liverpool languish near the bottom, Americans playing well for Leeds, and FC Barcelona’s island of misfit toys producing sporadic displays of coherent brilliance.
As the first non-goals of the year appear, we’re reminded of the folk standard-turned-folk/rock hit “Turn! Turn! Turn!” First recorded during the folk music heyday of the early 60s but most successful as recorded by the folk/rock/country group The Byrds in ‘65, "Turn! Turn Turn!" has been the theme song of the first few weeks of the new season, as evidenced by the three fantastic non-goal turns into open space featured below. “To everything, there is a season,” go the lyrics, and apparently there’s even a season for Cristiano Ronaldo sulking on the bench. The song also holds the distinction of being the US number 1 hit with the oldest lyrics (they’re lifted almost entirely from the Bible), proving that a turn into space is as timeless as a good pair of sandals.
Our first Turn! Comes from the surprisingly enjoyable Arsenal FC, playing with a joi de vivre that’s been missing since the Arsene Wenger days. In this non-goal, we see midfielder Thomas Partey cleverly redirecting the ball away from pressure into open space. Simultaneously shielding the ball from Bournemouth’s Philip Billing and opening up an opportunity to move the ball into a more dangerous position, Partey’s non-goal touch is as deft as Roger McGuinn’s 12-string opening line on "T!T!T!"
Next up is the terrific turn from Leeds United's American attacker Brenden Aaronson. Receiving a pass down the flank, Aaronson outfoxes Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly with an outside-of-the-foot turn so good Koulibaly can only grab onto Aaronson’s shirt to slow him down. Aaronson’s quick change of direction brings to mind the alternating verse/chorus cycle that makes "T!T!T!" so unforgettable: which is the verse, which is the chorus? Koulibaly is left guessing. “A time to dance, a time to mourn,” is also an excellent subtitle for the way Leeds and Chelsea fans experienced that moment.
Finally, Pedri’s turn from in front of his own box was the source of Barcelona’s goal against Real Sociedad, opening up a counter attack that ended in Robert Lewandowski’s first goal for the club. Unfortunately for Barça fans, there’s nothing in "T!T!T!" about the inability to register new signings.
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing.
It's great to be back in non-goal season.