GOAL! The game's top players are scoring for fun this season... but what's the secret of their success?

Goalkeepers must be having nightmares. No sooner does Cristiano Ronaldo move to Spain than a new ball arrives with added dip and swerve.

It’s called the Nike Total90 Ascente ball, and it has to be one of the reasons behind  the flood of goals this season.

I’ve had a try-out and it explodes off your foot, fluctuates in the air and changes course en route to goal.

Steven Gerrard’s curling, dipping, right-footed inswinger from the left for Liverpool against Hull is a good example. Liverpool's English midfielder Steven Gerrard

Having a ball: Gerrard scored against Hull with a dipping, inswinging shot

As a manager, you might not be too impressed with your keeper, but what was he to do with that? The ball came arrowing through the air. With the right execution and
delivery, this ball can develop incredible pace.

Don’t underestimate, too, how much players like Ryan Giggs and Gerrard will practise and work with a new ball to find out its capabilities and limitations.

The training ground is always full of eager anticipation when the new balls are delivered before the start of a season. Then the season gets under way and you can see the results already this time. Goals, goals, goals.

They haven’t always got the ball technology right. In past years, it shifted too much, it
felt too light. Now it seems devastating as players work more on power than placement.

Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe, for instance, spends extra time on the training pitch concentrating on getting his foot through the ball and working on beating the keeper with force. Look at his goal at West Ham recently when he just leathered a shot past Robert Green.

Jermain Defoe of Tottenham is challenged by Jonathan Spector of West Ham

Technique: Defoe spins West Ham's Jonathan Spector

For shots and free-kicks, goalkeepers will set themselves with confidence and expect to gather, parry or punch but then have to readjust mid-air as the ball takes on a life of its own.

It’s not the only reason why there have been so many goals — there has been some shocking defending too — but the ball is certainly a striker’s weapon. Even when I was still playing four years ago, the ball was heavier.

Nothing like the old leather balls that felt like medicine balls when the water soaked
in, but still less likely to cause havoc and chaos than this latest offering.

It won’t just be Nike, though. Adidas are sure to be working on a new World Cup ball for next summer that will create more danger for keepers.

Marking from set pieces seems a little slack, too. I can understand shirt pulling being on the decline in Europa League matches with six officials and two specially placed to watch for the defenders’ dark arts.

But in the league, too, Liverpool’s zonal marking has been exploited — I wonder how it
will cope against Didier Drogba on Sunday — and, even Chelsea’s normally sound
back line was troubled at Wigan.

Titus Bramble

At sixes and sevens: Titus Bramble (centre) scores against Chelsea's slapdash defence

Promoted clubs Burnley, Wolves and Birmingham are loose on their travels, when
they switch off and are being punished, while Hull are missing Michael Turner. There is also a risk that they are showing too much respect to the big names, to players such as Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane.

They are not getting tight enough, standing off and admiring and are being punished.

Offensively, teams who have a wicked deliverer of a dead ball, either a corner or a free-kick, are taking advantage. We’ve seen that with the quality of Giggs and Gerrard.

Last weekend, it was six for Liverpool, five for Spurs and plenty of goals all around the
leagues makes for healthy attendances and good viewing on television, so we shouldn’t complain.

When I was playing, it was all about natural flight but now it’s about extracting movement.

I haven’t heard too many grumbles — unless you’re in ear-shot of the man with the
gloves. No wonder they say you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper.

You say we might not make them like Shilton and Banks any more, but they had it easy
by comparison.