Erling Haaland is going to ride one hell of a wave this year with highs and lows seeming to be coming at every opportunity.
Much hype was billed for the Norwegian striker when the striker was announced but most of the reviews received have been negative, to say the least. Those misses in the Community Shield were the topic of conversation amongst rival fans, goading him that he will be a massive flop in the Premier League, setting him up to put ‘egg on their face’.
A sense of shush was delivered in the opening Premier League when he scored two goals, also winning the penalty which he scored from. West Ham played a game into Haaland’s strengths leaving space for him to run into and him to be found often.
The noise level has crept up slowly and the critics have come out of the woodwork after he failed to score against Bournemouth; a victory that was wrapped up by halftime and played his part in the opening goal with an assist.
The criticism appears to be focused on the fact that Haaland made just eight touches before being substituted, following 30 touches against West Ham. The number of touches in single-digit form was mocked and compared to the Premier League’s lowest total of seven by Romelu Lukaku last season.
Now, the context of his involvement is taken way out. Two goals and an assist in two games is a very good return, in my opinion, something Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohammed Salah will snap your hand off right now.
Especially when you are marked out of the game by three defenders, no matter the level of the opposition.
Of Haaland’s Premier League touches, 22 have come in his domain of the attacking third, with 12 of those in the opposition penalty area. The majority of the 16 remaining have come in the middle third, with two in the defensive third – one vital header to clear the danger from an opposition corner.
He is doing something with the ball should be an unwarranted reply to those critics with an emphasis on his City’s perfect start to the season. Goal-scoring opportunities have been attributed to his every third touch and compared to the other early other starters in the golden boot race, there is a remarkable difference.
Only, former City number 9, Gabriel Jesus, can get close with his superb start to the season. He is averaging a goal-scoring opportunity every 22 touches. Pretty far apart.
The difference in the statistics tells a remarkable story and once Haaland is up and running and, consistently, playing 90 minutes then he’ll be a danger when he’s getting involved. An ominous warning to the Premier League and all those (not so) football experts out there.