After a subdued performance during Manchester City’s loss to Arsenal, there has been criticism of Erling Haaland and his display against the Gunners. Some have laid the blame on Pep Guardiola for how City set up against the Gunners, and others have claimed Haaland doesn’t perform in big games. The criticism of the striker tends to lead to a glut of goals from Haaland based on his time at the Etihad so far.
This isn’t new territory for Manchester City or Erling Haaland. Last season just before the treble winners began their run to secure their place in history similar criticism was placed on Haaland. There were calls that the Norwegian striker has picked the wrong club before City went on their run to claim the treble.
As Erling Haaland said in an exclusive interview with Jason Burt of the Telegraph it comes as a surprise when he doesn’t score. His goal-scoring feats mean he is held to a different standard than most other strikers.
Due to the type of player Haaland is, he relies on service from his teammates to thrive. In City’s defeats to Wolves and Arsenal, the service to Haaland bordered on non-existent. That was in part due to the defensive set-up of both sides. Teams are determined to deny City space in midfield, and therefore prevent Haaland from getting in behind them. So far this season teams have learnt from Haaland’s stunning debut season.
City haven’t been at their best this season, and neither has their number 9. Yet Haaland still sits atop the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 8 in 8 games. If last season is a guide, when City do click into gear the goals will return for Haaland. Then the narrative will shift back to how to stop the Nordic Meat Shield.