The Norwegian has had to adapt to new team-mates and the loss of his greatest supply line. But he is still Pep Guardiola’s most lethal weapon
A few days before the Champions League final, Erling Haaland spoke to a pack of journalists at Manchester City’s training ground. One brave reporter asked him about the fact that despite breaking the Premier League’s single season goalscoring record with 36 strikes and being top scorer in the Champions League, he was heading to Istanbul having only scored once in his last seven appearances.
His response was disarming, a demonstration of his utterly assured yet laid back personality. “You can think of it as one goal in seven games…” he began with a tone of slight disapproval, eyebrows raised. “Or,” he continued, taking a long pause while displaying the cheekiest of grins, “you can think of it as 52 goals in 52 games and eight assists. You can think of it in both ways. I’m not stressed. I feel really good.”
It was a telling reminder that Haaland goal droughts have to be treated very differently to slides in form from other strikers. For every game that the Norwegian fails to score in, there are countless others in which he has found the net, often more than once, and often more than twice
Four months on from the Champions League final, Haaland is getting ready for his biggest match of the season so far, City’s top-of-the-table clash with Arsenal – and his form is once more being debated after scoring just once in his last four matches.
But just like in June, he can point to his prolific record already this season, namely the fact he has scored eight goals in seven Premier League games. Should City be worried? Or is Haaland just having a little rest before embarking on his latest epic goalscoring streak?