Erling Haaland is the difference
Those of you with long memories may remember this blog at the start of the last season when I asked could we win the Premier League and did so by comparing City’s likely top 11 against Arsenal’s. I struggled to put any of Arsenal above a City player but I gave a draw between Jesus and Haaland on the basis that Jesus is proven in the PL and Haaland might not succeed as greats have not before him, one notable such was Andriy Shevchenko, who I believed was going to make Chelsea unstoppable. I also said that this was probably going to make me look foolish as I expected Haaland to shine. He did, in an unbelievable way.
Pep, the Spanish guardian of the Viking god
So, honestly, have you ever seen a better striker? I can’t think of any and I have been watching football for a long time. He had 52 in all competitions last season in 53 matches. Arsenal had 103 in 49 matches. So one guy gets more than half of all our players? He has 8 goals from 9 appearances so far. We have 15 from 8. So he is still scoring more than half our goals already?
City get the Viking God, not Arsenal
If he stays fit, I think he may be the main reason that City do extraordinarily well again, leaving the lesser teams to pick up the scraps. The fact that City changed their style of play to suit this machine tells you everything about him. Now, it seems he wanted to come to Arsenal, and Odegaard was pushing for this but he elected to go to City and nobody could blame him. Barring City getting punished for irregularities, he will win lots of trophies and Arsenal will struggle to get the big ones.
Sterling's record to go?
I want to put him into Arsenal terms. He has 62 goals for City already. Many big Arsenal names have fewer for us. Kanu has 44, Wiltord 49, John Radford and Kevin Campbell 53, Fabregas has 57. They all played for many years for us. If Haaland gets 53 again he will jump up into 6th place above Olivier Giroud on 105. He was the fastest to 50 goal contributions since they started tracking such things. If he gets similar figures for next season 2024/5 he will be pushing Ian Wright’s record. It is incredible.
Bye bye Sterling’s record?
Of course it may not happen. He may lose form, get injured, lose confidence, in fact anything could go wrong, but I have a feeling that this guy will keep pumping in the goals. For City, most probably. If he does manage 50 plus he will jump up into 3rd on City’s all time list behind Raheem Sterling on 131 and Sergio Aguerro on 260. Aguerro’s is a good target but Sterling’s certainly isn’t.
500 for Haaland, why not?
Would he have scored so many for Arsenal? I don’t see why not, but Arteta would have to be humble enough to be willing to change Arsenal’s style of play to accommodate him. Pep, the modern day genius did. The point about Haaland is that he doesn’t get many touches. He makes many runs, often into great positions but regularly doesn’t get the ball. And so he is the epitome of the old commentators cry, “He did nothing in the game except score a hat trick.”
Arteta too much of a purist for Haaland?
Arteta seems to prize hard work above all else, and a guy who doesn’t seem to do much except score may be a big ask for him. A long ball aimed at De Bruyne and Haaland may feel a bit Sam Allardyce to Arteta. Plus Pep has the assurance of a guy who has won big trophies at big clubs. Arteta is having his first go. He may have felt it was too large a risk with the ball to go long. I guess we will never know.
Would Arteta have controlled him or unleashed him like Pep
Nobody else among the top teams play like City do now. Yes, City have a strong pressing game aimed at getting the ball back quickly as do all the major teams but Pep is willing to lose it by directing all efforts ultimately at the Norwegian. All their players know that this guy is unique. He will win trophies for them. They will get caps and acclaim as winners.
Is there anyone for us out there?
Despite all the goals and the big transfer fee allied to the incredible hype, he seems a very likable person. I reckon he would have loved Arteta’s Arsenal as Odegaard worked his De Bruyne magic for him. I think Haaland would have been the missing link, the goalscorer that we have been waiting for since Henry. Although Henry could score by himself and that is not really Haaland’s forte. Henry could get us the win. Haaland is getting them the win. And there is one big advantage of the long ball, so beloved of all the underdogs everywhere, you can keep your players back, ready to fight if the ball is lost.
Ivan Toney the Wright guy?
I do not see any one else out there in the Premier League who might come to us. Ivan Toney is being promulgated but, while he will bring a physicality and a target to all our incredibly talented suppliers, I am not really convinced of his class.
Ivan Toney - can we take a bet on him?
But he does seem the best option there is. I feel he would score for us. He could supply enough of them to give City a very hard time and, if he blooms totally by being surrounded by Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Trossard, Jesus, etc., and knocking in 30 plus a season then City had better beware.
Ian could always score for us
We are scoring lots of goals at the moment without our strikers knocking in too many. What would we be like with a striker who would score lots of goals? I suspect it is the missing link. We didn’t get Haaland but we need to get as close as possible to the next best thing. Maybe Toney is that. If he turns out to be an Arsenal player not a Brentford one, January could be interesting yet. Another gear in our car would be very nice at that point. And hey, Ian Wright was 27 when he joined us and scoring for a lower London team when he came, same as Toney now. Could he be our new Ian Wright Wright Wright?