In terms of scoring, Erling Haaland is a well-oiled machine. In his first season in the Premier League, he scored 32 goals and made 27 starts. How could Arsenal, one of Man City’s final eight opponents, keep silent arguably the world’s best No. 9?
Vn88 said that Haaland has gone scoreless in nine of those 27 appearances, but none of City’s remaining opponents can afford to rest on their laurels against a man who looks certain to surpass the record for most goals in a single Premier League season.
Defending against the attacker, who can seem superhuman at times, is difficult, especially when he is fed by stars like Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, and Jack Grealish.
Rezence wonders how then do you stifle his mutterings? A 2-1 triumph over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in early November, just before the World Cup break, was made possible thanks to the efforts of Ben Mee, a guest on Monday Night Football.
Concentration is key, he said to Vn88 Rezence. After taking an early lead, we were under some pressure in the second half. They possessed the ball for long stretches of the game, but as I’ve said previously, managers have a significant impact on their teams’ performances thanks to the structure and influence they bring to the field.
During the entire match, Haaland was only able to take one shot and make five touches within the box of the opposing team. Meanwhile, Mee provided City’s upcoming opponents with some food for thought regarding how to steal a page out of Thomas Frank’s playbook.
The one that (almost) got away (at first)
The incident occurred early in the game when Haaland escaped Mee’s man-marking attempt and hooked a De Bruyne cross across goal, with Gundogan just missing out on an easy finish.
Mee says on rezence.com, “That should have been the red flag. You see De Bruyne having possession of the ball; we’ve discussed his partnership with Haaland; obviously, we’re attempting to prevent De Bruyne from playing in crosses of this nature.
“This one’s with his left foot; observe Haaland’s motion as I look for the ball; then watch as he spins in behind me and out of sight. It’s true that he’s lightning fast. To try to catch him doing that at the beginning of the game was a huge caution sign for me.
Second, a takeaway (and a lunch)
As Haaland drops deep to receive an inside pass, center backs Mee and Ethan Pinnock pack in tight to prevent the Norwegian from entering the penalty area.
Finally, the ball is thrown into the area for him to run onto, but Pinnock intercepts it before either defender can get there and clears the danger.
When W88 asked about Haaland’s ability to catch the ball in these situations, Mee said, “We’re not as concerned with him in these positions.” It’s when he does those darting dashes from behind, almost turning. Even though he has the ability to take shots from wherever on the field, he typically sprints toward the goal area.
“Ethan gives him some room, and then he tries to cut in behind us right away, so we retreat and deal with it.”
That is the most notable feature, in Jamie Carragher’s opinion. Haaland used to be on the “wrong” side of Ben, but now they’re practically on top of each other, leaving him no room to go.
Thirdly, the shadow cast by De Bruyne
De Bruyne, who is on Mee’s side of the defense, receives the ball as it is crossed from the left, and the center back quickly rushes out to shut him down before he can make a pass. While City is in control, he maintains constant pressure on the opposing player.
Mee said with W88 Rezence, “I’ve talked before about how De Bruyne and Haaland work together and how they try to stop Kevin from making those passes. So, shutting him down, going out to him as soon as possible, the nearest man, and preventing him from being as dangerous as he can be when the ball comes over to my side.
He’s a threat on this side of the field, so I’ll be marking him whenever the ball is over here. The other two central midfielders are still plugging away on Haaland.
Carra says on Vn88 Rezence, “I think it’s fascinating for a central defender to go out there. What I find most intriguing is that he didn’t think, “I’ve got to get back in,” as a central defender would ordinarily.