Erling Haaland: Man City’s new striker ‘unplayable’: Erling Haaland exploded after 35 minutes of Manchester City dominance at the London Stadium with 85% possession but little in the way.
Haaland’s lightning pace allowed him to reach Ilkay Gundogan’s through ball to Alphonse Areola and win a penalty for City.
It was the first look at Haaland’s exceptional physical qualities, his power and acceleration, and his finishing skill. His penalty was put away brutally.
Haaland’s second second-half goal was similar. Ben Johnson and Kurt Zouma raced perfectly. Again, clinical. Gary Neville co-commented “unplayable”
Haaland’s triumph made City’s day. It showed how far the Norwegians can take this already-great team.
After the Community Shield loss to Liverpool, patience and time were needed.
Pep Guardiola questioned Haaland’s Premier League future after he only touched the ball 16 times and hit the bar from close range.
Manchester City manager: “I don’t care how many goals he scores.” “We won’t lose for Erling. “He must be himself”
This should quiet skeptics.
“He couldn’t adjust to the Premier League a week ago,” Guardiola stated. “He joins Titi Henry, Alan Shearer, and Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Guardiola was underlining how rapidly narratives can change, but he’ll have trouble containing Haaland’s exuberance.
He’s the second City player to score twice on debut. Sergio Aguero. Early signs suggest they have a replacement for the Argentine.
This doesn’t mean he did well.
In the first half, he misread a cross from Phil Foden. He then missed a second-half shot by Kevin De Bruyne, hindering Gundogan. Jack Grealish’s pass created a hat-trick chance.
Haaland’s dominating presence confused West Ham defenders and gave City’s forwards a target in and around the box.
West Ham’s injured defense was helpless.
Haaland had more than twice as many shots and throw-ins as anyone else in 78 minutes.
He’s most lethal here, but he was more than a goal threat.
His presence alone shook the West Ham defense, confusing his teammates and creating space.
Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane said Haaland gives them another alternative. “It’s another weapon,” Guardiola said.
Keane said, “City played West Ham.” Haaland threatens even when teammates push. Defending will be different without Haaland. West Ham failed.
Others will struggle too.
Haaland struggled to make an impact against Liverpool, but he connected play well here, dropping into midfield to pass to teammates with their backs to the goal and then rushing forward to join attacks.
21 of 23 passes were completed, a 91% success rate. If Declan Rice hadn’t scrambled his flick for Grealish after halftime, he could have had an assist.
The scary is that it’s only begun.
Guardiola then listed many ways the 22-year-old could improve. He said, “He said it.” “His head finish, right [foot]left, control, game knowledge, movement”
More is coming.
Haaland has a big-stage personality – he shouted in a post-match interview about missing a hat-trick – and quality.
Haaland was the latest City player to turn away from the boisterous traveling fans after what Guardiola called an “amazing” performance. Early signs suggest it will happen again.
Gary Neville compared Haaland’s threat to that of Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
He said, “Few players have everything.” “His body, strength, power, finishing, understanding, and timing are exceptional.
“When we played Zinedine Zidane or Cristiano Ronaldo, we thought, ‘I can’t do anything
“Some Premier League defenders won’t make mistakes and will be helpless. Too rapid and forceful. It’s unjust.
“Unplayable.” If he keeps fit, the others will be in trouble.”
Roy Keane: “Great quality, running, movement.” He’ll succeed.
He might score 30 or 40 goals if he stays healthy and on penalties. He’s very good. Good luck, defenders!
Haaland praised his performance to Sky Sports following.
He said, “Good start.” “It’s early in the season, so minutes are nice. Preseason against Bayern showed the potential. Against Liverpool, it lagged, but that’s normal. Coming passes. Today should’ve been better, but it’s a start.
“It’s all about everyday practise and training.” We’ll improve, don’t worry.
“I’m excited to make my competition debut — we must keep progressing.” Since I last scored, I must keep going.
Erling scoring both goals is vital for him and us, but we had no reservations about a player who’s been scoring since birth. He’ll always succeed.
Guardiola said Haaland’s skills give City a new dimension.
“We won’t change much; we’ll just adjust because they have a terrific runner and finisher.
“He fits our style perfectly, and we’ll find him more.” We’ll hopefully provide him scoring chances.”