Erling Haaland: New Man City striker ‘unplayable’ as he shows form against West Ham | Football news

After 35 minutes of Manchester City’s dominance in the London stadium, in which they had 85 per cent of possession but few interceptions, Erling Haaland had exploded.

Ilkay Gundogan was the catalyst, turning smart when he received Joao Cancelo’s pass in a gap on the left, but it was Haaland’s ecstatic pace that allowed him to approach the German’s pass ahead of Alphonse Areola and take the win. Man City’s penalty kick.

It was a first look at Haaland’s extraordinary physical qualities, the strength and acceleration that made him a formidable opponent, and followed by an example of his finishing ability. His cool penalty is tucked into the bottom corner.

Haaland’s second goal, midway through the second half, showed similar attributes. Another perfect timed race between Ben Johnson and Kurt Zouma. Another clinical end. “Unplayable,” said Sports sky Gary Neville expert on co-commentary.

Haaland’s winning performance made this afternoon not easy for Man City. It also provides the first clue to the extent to which the Norwegians can enhance this already brilliant aspect.

There has been talk of patience and adaptation after the Community Shield loss to Liverpool last weekend.

Haaland’s poor performance in that game, when he touched the ball only 16 times and missed a stunning goal-scoring opportunity from close range, ensured there were plenty of questions for Pep Guardiola ahead of the game. Premier League.

“I don’t know how many goals he will score and I don’t care,” the Manchester City manager said in his press conference. “We’re not going to win for Erling and lose for Erling. He has to be himself.”

Erling Haaland celebrates scoring for Man City vs West Ham
Erling Haaland celebrates scoring for Man City vs West Ham

What better way to silence doubters than this?

“A week ago, he couldn’t adapt in the Premier League,” said a smiling Guardiola when facing the press after the game. “And now he’s with Titi Henry, Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Guardiola has pointed out how quickly stories can change but he will find it difficult to contain the excitement surrounding Haaland right now.

His goals make him the second Manchester City player to score twice on his Premier League debut. The first person? Sergio Aguero. The initial evidence shows that they are in possession of a striker capable of taking the place of the Argentine player.

That doesn’t mean everything has come to him.

In the first half, he misjudged the flight of a Phil Foden cross when he placed it well to score. He then slipped too late to make the home team cut off by Kevin De Bruyne in the second half, hindering Gundogan in a better position in the process. There was also a great chance for a hat-trick, headed by Jack Grealish’s serve.

But encouragement for City is that Haaland is almost always where he needs to be, his presence worrying West Ham defenders throughout and making City’s supporting strikers a target. Ideal goal in and around the penalty area.

West Ham, their defense exhausted by injury, had no answer.

Heat map and attack stats of Erling Haaland against West Ham
Heat map and attack stats of Haaland against West Ham

Haaland has five shots in his 78 minutes on the field – more than double that of anyone else – and also tops the number of touches in the box with 10.

It’s that he’s the most lethal but there’s a lot more to his performance than a goal threat.

His towering presence alone was enough to create uncertainty in West Ham’s defence, drawing attention from teammates on either side and creating space to be exploited.

“Haaland offers them another option,” Sports sky Dr. Roy Keane then. “He’s another weapon we have now,” added Guardiola in his press conference.

“The city went by, they were toying with West Ham,” Keane continued. “But even if the teams go forward, Haaland will threaten at the back. It will be another challenge for the defenders now with Haaland running behind. West Ham have not coped.”

Others will find it similarly difficult.

Haaland struggled against Liverpool but he linked effective play here, showing a willingness to cross down midfield and cushion passes into team-mates’ feet with his back towards goal, then rush forward to join the attack.

Erling Haaland celebrates scoring for Man City vs West Ham
Haaland was devastated by City teammates after scoring

In total, he found a teammate with 21 of his 23 passes, giving him a 91% success rate. He might even have had an assist if Declan Rice hadn’t managed to dodge his deft hit to the attacking Grealish shortly after half-time.

Of course, what’s really scary is that he’s just getting started.

When asked where the 22-year-old could improve, Guardiola offered a long list of areas. “It was he who said it,” he said. “He shoots with his head, to his right [foot]on the left, his control, his understanding of the game, his movements depend on what he has to do. “

In other words, there is much more to come.

Haaland has the personality for the big stage – it was clear in his post-match interview with Sports sky when he uttered a terse sentence at the question of missing a hat-trick – and he clearly has the quality, too.

After the final whistle at the London Stadium, Haaland was the last Manchester City player to turn his back on the passionate fans behind goal as they appreciated what Guardiola described as a performance.” especially”. Early evidence suggests it could become a repeat spectacle.

Neville: Haaland has absolutely everything | Keane: He can score 40 goals

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Roy Keane analyzes Haaland’s performance

Speaking after the game, Sports sky Expert Gary Neville likened Haaland to Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo to the all-out threat he poses.

“There are very few players you see who have absolutely everything,” he said. “Physicality, strength, strength, perfection, understanding, time – they are unique.

“You can play against Zinedine Zidane or a [Cristiano] Ronaldo when we play and think, ‘There’s nothing I can do here’.

“There will be defenders in the Premier League who don’t make mistakes and are helpless. He’s too strong, too fast. It’s almost an unhealthy competition.

“He can’t play. He’s a giant and he’s still young, so if he stays fit, the rest of us will be in big trouble.”

Roy Keane added: “Great quality, great runs, great moves. He’s going to have a chance.

“His penalty kick means he can score 30 or 40 goals this season if he’s fit and healthy. There’s a lot of quality around him. Good luck to the defenders.”

Haaland: Good start | Guardiola: He is adapting perfectly to the way we play

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Haaland reflects on his debut against West Ham

Talking to Sports sky after that, Haaland gave a lower rating of his performance.

“It’s a good start,” he said. “It’s still early in the season so it’s good to have a few minutes on our feet. We saw the potential against Bayern [in pre-season]. Against Liverpool, it’s a bit downhill, but it will come to the games. The passes will come. Today should have been more, but it was a good start.

“It’s all about the connection in training every day and practicing this. We’ll get better than this, I don’t worry.

“It was an important moment for me, to debut in this competition – we have to move on. It’s been almost 30 minutes since I scored my last goal so I have to move on.”

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola praised Haaland on his debut

Guardiola added: “Erling scoring twice is important for him and for us, but we have no doubt about a guy who has scored since he was born. That will always happen. with him.”

Asked if Haaland would give City a new dimension, Guardiola added: “What he gives us are his qualities.

“We’re not going to change much, just adapt because now we have a threat there – an unbelievable runner and an exceptional finisher.

“He is adapting perfectly to the way we play and we will be looking for him more. Hopefully we will give him a chance to score.”

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