WATCH: Three reasons why Erling Haaland is scoring so many goals at Manchester City
FourFourTwo's YouTube channel analyses Erling Haaland, who can't stop scoring for Manchester City – here's how the Norwegian is doing it
Erling Haaland has 28 Manchester City goals in just 26 games. He's on course to obliterate the record for most Premier League goals in a season – and that's not factoring in the other 10 he has in Europe, plus three in just two games in the FA Cup.
English football has seldom seen a goals-to-game ratio like it. The Norwegian has made a mockery of suggestions he couldn't adapt to the Premier League or Pep Guardiola and is arguably the best footballer on Earth right now – but how? And why?
It's not as if Manchester City have been spectacular – by their standards, at least, either. This is simply a generational footballer, who is lighting up the European game with a particular set of skills…
1. Manchester City have such a superiority in possession, that Erling Haaland gets an abundance of chances
Pep Guardiola loves possession more than anything else, to the point where he believes it's pragmatic: if his team has the ball, they can't concede chances.
As FFT's Adam Clery explains in the video above, the Citizens may line up in a 4-3-3 shape but when they pen teams into their own third, they resemble more of a 3-2-4-1, with Haaland at the top of the formation. Adam lays out the formation here, detailing how Guardiola sets his side up and how there can be teething problems by putting such a ruthless striker into such a patient system.
But as he also points out, the law of averages simply dictates that if Haaland's side has enough of the ball, the No.9 is going to get chances. If he only needs one chance to score, imagine what a team that creates so many can provide him with…
"That's the thing about having a good system," Adam says, "Even if teams know how to defend against it, if you're really good at it, it'll still create chances."
2. Haaland's starting position is significantly different to other strikers
Most strikers play on the shoulder of the striker. But as Adam explains, Haaland comes closer to the ball in order to give defenders other things to think about.
If Haaland waits on the defender's shoulder, the defender is only thinking about Haaland making a run beyond him: instead, the Norwegian moves back into midfield so that defenders are caught between watching Haaland and watching the ball. This way, he can get blind side of an opponent and lose his marker by acting disinterested in the play developing around him.
"He is so quick that he will beat that defender in a foot race even if he gives him a five- or 10-yard headstart," Adam says. "He gets into a position where he knows that the defender can't see him and the ball – and then he beats him anyway."
3. He just… knows
It's not just that he's pacy, though. It's not just that he's got the build to shrug defenders off if they get close to him. It's not just that he's tall, too, so an aerial target for crosses. Erling Haaland… "just knows" where the goal is, as Adam concludes.
After all, we've all seen plenty of strikers who get in the right positions and can't convert. Haaland, on the other hand, reads play expertly – both his team-mates and opponents – and has an intuition of where the space will present itself.
"Why does Erling Haaland score so many goals? Because he's capable of scoring so many different types of goals," Adam says. As those ever-spiralling statistics quite succinctly showcase, it's a numbers game.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.
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