Football Language Podcast: Can’t Buy a Goal

In this week’s football language podcast, Damon and Damian get together to chat about some of the football words and phrases from the past week, including the cliche ‘can’t buy a goal‘. They also review some of the latest football-language posts that the languagecaster team have recently uploaded to the new-look website and take a look at their favourite teams’ ups and downs from the season so far. Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here, and visit our site to access all the previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions, contact us at

Football Language Podcast: Can’t Buy a Goal


Football Language Podcast

DF: You’re listening to Hello everyone, this is Damian from the Learning English Through Football team. I hope we are all doing well and staying safe wherever we are in the world. I’m here in a cold and wet east London and of course still in lockdown but enjoying as much football as I can watch – and that’s despite my team Tottenham’s terrible week! Now, as regular listeners to the show will know our other contributor to the podcast is Damon who is based in Tokyo – hello Damon!

DB: Hi Damian.

DF: Good to hear from you Damon. How are things in Tokyo?

DB: Well, like most of the world, COVID is on the news all day and everyday, but like you, I’ve been watching football when I get the chance. Indeed, I watched our teams Tottenham and Liverpool play an exciting game a few days ago.

DF: I’m not sure it was that exciting for Spurs fans – we lost 3-1 and probably even worse than that was the fact that we also lost our talisman striker Harry Kane. Oh, losing at home, even to the champions, is never fun!

DB: Yes, losing at home is never good. Liverpool lost their three-year unbeaten run at home with a 1-0 loss to Burnley the game before playing Spurs, so it’s been a bit up and down as a fan recently. Actually, the season has been a bit up and down hasn’t it, for both Liverpool and Spurs? When they met in December, Spurs were top and Liverpool second, weren’t they?

Highs & Lows – Liverpool and Spurs

DF: Yes, that seems so long ago now for Spurs as we are not playing well at all. Tell me Damon, what have been the high and low points for so far as a Liverpool fan?

DB: There’ve been quite a few, but the low was probably losing 7-2 to Aston Villa. Seven. Two. That’s embarrassing especially when Liverpool are the current champions. That was a real shock, although it has to be said that Villa scored with almost all their shots, but Liverpool looked very, very slow and lacked any spark or ideas. That was a worrying time. As for the high, well, sorry, but Bobby Firmino’s extra time winner against Tottenham which ended his goal drought, sent Liverpool top, and him running towards the 2,000 fans at the Kop end of Anfield to celebrate, which for such a long time had been empty – that was a pretty special moment. How about you?

DF: Well, as I have mentioned this week has been a low point with two defeats and some injuries but one thing we should remember is that Spurs have already played 34 matches this season in the Premier League, the Europa League, the FA Cup and the League Cup where we will play the final in April. That is a high point but there was also a month when the team was playing really well and we went top after defeating Manchester City and Arsenal and of course we put 6 past Manchester United and 5 past Southampton

DB: Nice one!

Stinger: You are listening to (in German).

DF: Yes, you are listening to and that message was in German. Don’t forget that there’s a transcript to this podcast which you can access by coming along to our site. And you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and you can drop us a line at:

DB: And spread the word. Tell your friends, and if you like what we do and would like to show some support, you can donate a little bit of money via Patreon, at

DB: Right, let’s get stuck in to some football language.

DF. Let’s do that, and it’s all about not being able to score. So, I guess we are back talking about Spurs again!

Stinger: You are listening to (in Swahili).

Can’t buy a goal

DB: And that message was in Swahili. OK, the first phrase we’ll talk about is a kind of clichecan’t buy a goal. Now, recently, my team Liverpool couldn’t buy a goal, that is, they couldn’t score a goal for a long period of time. Everything they tried failed and it looked like they would never score. This cliche is often used by depressed fans who think fate or luck is against a player or team.

DF: That’s right, it is almost like even if they paid money, they still wouldn’t score. Liverpool went four games in the league without scoring – they couldn’t buy a goal between the end of December and the end of January.

DB: What about other phrases to talk about periods when a player or team can’t score?

Dry up

DF: Well, we have several, which all are connected with water. Let’s start with to dry up. This verb phrase describes a stream or a river, maybe in summer, drying up – the water disappears because there is no rain. In football, the goals replace the water, so the goals have dried up means a player or team have stopped scoring. We can also use the adjective dry, and say a player is going through a dry patch, a period of time without goals. Here’s an example from this month (January 2021): Frank Lampard has backed Timo Werner to come through his current dry ‘patch’ and has offered the Chelsea forward his ‘support’ following a barren run in front of goal (

DB: And here’s an example of dry up, talking about Liverpool’s form last month: While there is no single factor behind Liverpool’s goals drying up, there are several areas of concern that are contributing to the issue  (

Goal drought

DB: And staying with the weather and phrases talking about difficulties scoring, let’s finish with ‘goal drought‘. A drought is a long spell, period of time, without rain; the ground becomes dry, nothing grows, and farmers start to worry. We can transfer the meaning to football and replace rain with goals, so a goal drought is when the goals dry up, the goals stop coming. With dry up, dry patch, and drought we can use wins as well as goals, so a winning drought, or the wins have dried up.

DF: Yes, and we might hear trophy or title drought too. Here’s a good example from CNN and it is exactly how I feel: Being a Spurs fan has rarely been easy over the years, but this is by some distance the longest trophy drought the club has endured since the Second World War. For a club of Tottenham’s size and considerable financial power, 13 years is far too long a wait for silverware. We may break this dry patch in April when we take on Manchester City in the League Cup final but then again, probably not!

DB: Stiff opposition, but Mourinho is a trophy winner, so you’re in with a chance. OK, so there you are phrases to talk about not scoring:

  • can’t buy a goal
  • to dry up
  • a dry patch
  • a goal drought

Stinger: My name is Theodora, I’m from Greece. My favourite team is Olympiakos fan and you are listening to

Good Bye

DF: Just a quick reminder that we have recently posted lots of football language podcasts recently including the phrases, ‘knock a team out of the cup‘; ‘to be in the hat‘ and ‘not at the races‘. And we’ll have more football phrases to talk about next week.

Now, just before we go you may have noticed the Learning English Through Football website has had a slight makover, which means a change in our look. We still have our huge football glossary, a forum where you can ask (and answer) questions as well as lots of other football-language resources for fans of the beautiful game, while we have tried to make it a little easier to find all of our football language podcasts that date back to 2006! Let us know what you think by dropping us a line at:

Enjoy all the football this week and we’ll see you again soon. Bye bye.

DB: Yes, stay safe! Ta-ra!

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Football Phrase 2021Episode 713