Recently rival fans signed a petition to remove Manchester City’s Erling Haaland on claims of him being a robot, and the petition has over 400,000 signatures.
“Erling Haaland is a serious problem. He shows up out of the blue, and consistently ruins the weekends of the hardworking people of this great nation. This issue must be dealt with in order to protect the mental health of millions in our society,” the petition reads.
“To put it shortly, if things don’t change, it will only get worse. This guy is nine league goals away from equaling last season’s golden boot winner. This is disrespectful to the establishment.”
Can the fans really be blamed despite how ridiculous the petition sounds? The Norwegian striker who made a summer move to City from Borussia Dortmund has shown robotic efficiency in front of goal, already bagging 20 goals in 13 appearances for the English champion.
Right now, it is not just about goals for Haaland. Every match, City fans wait with bated breath, and rival fans with terror, thinking about which record he would break with his incessant knack of finding the net.
When Sergio Aguero left Manchester City, Pep Guardiola broke down in an interview saying, “We cannot replace him.” At the moment, it really did seem like a monumental task. Replacing someone who scored 260 goals in 389 appearances is not easy. But with the arrival of Haaland and his scary scoring record, maybe the ‘replacement’ came much sooner than expected.
It is early days for Haaland in the blue side of Manchester but he has already eclipsed club legend, Aguero, by scoring in nine successive games -- Aguero only managed eight straight games on two occasions. Haaland also became the fastest player ever to reach 10 Premier League goals, achieving the feat in just six games. If that wasn’t enough, he broke another record by becoming the first player to score in his first four Premier League away games.
As the season progresses, what are the possible records Erling Haaland can break in the Premier League?
Most goals in a Premier League season
It won’t take an expert to figure out that Haaland is well on his way to winning the Premier League Golden Boot if he keeps up his scoring record. Currently, at 15, he tops the chart and has seven more than Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Brentford’s Ivan Toney who have eight goals each.
Former Manchester United forward Andrew Cole and former Blackburn Rovers forward Alan Shearer currently hold the record of scoring the most number of goals in a single season with 34 goals. Cole achieved the feat in the 1993-94 season in 40 games and Shearer in the 1994-95 season in 42 games. That season Shearer also won the Premier League title with Blackburn.
It must be noted that back then the Premier League had 22 teams compared to the format now with 20 teams.
In the past few seasons, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been in the spotlight when it comes to Golden Boot awards. He shared it with Tottenham Hotspurs’ Son Heung-Min last season with 23 goals. Both Salah and Son played 35 games last season.
He shared the award with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sadio Mane in the 2018-19 season with 22 goals. Salah played 38 games that season while Mane and Aubameyang played 36.
Salah was the undisputed leader in the 2017-18 season with 32 goals in 36 games which saw him break Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez’s joint- record of 31 goals in the 2007-08 season and 2013-14 season, respectively. Ronaldo played 32 games in the 07-08 season, while Suarez played 33 games in the 13-14 season. Salah’s tally of 32 goals was the highest scored in a single Premier League season after the 2000s.
But Haaland’s fiery start to the season is indicative of his ability to create history in his first season in the Premier League. It is not even November, and the striker already has 15 and maintains a scary goal average of 1.67 per match. Undoubtedly, the Norwegian needs to be consistent in front of the net throughout the season if he wishes to cement his place in the record books but if recent performances are anything to go by, Premier League goal records are in danger of being toppled.
Most Premier League hat-tricks
Scoring a hat-trick is still considered one of the most challenging things for a forward in a football match. Earlier hat-tricks were a rarity, till Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi started producing exemplary numbers.
Now, Haaland has taken the baton from the previous generation and is making hat-tricks look like a regular affair in a football match. With his last hat-trick coming in a 6-3 win against rival Manchester United he became the first player to score three successive home hat-tricks in Premier League matches.
With Haaland scoring three hat-tricks in just nine appearances, he is well on his way to breaking Alan Shearer’s long-standing record. Shearer scored five hat-tricks in the 1996-96 season for Blackburn, a record that has stood the test of time.
Haaland needs one more hat-trick to equal Harry Kane’s record of four hat-tricks in a season and has already equalled former City player Sergio Aguero’s tally of three hat-tricks.
Aguero also holds the record for scoring the most number of Premier League hat-tricks - 12. Questions have been raised whether Haaland would be able to break Aguero’s record in his single season itself. It is a big ask but if anyone can, it is the Norwegian goal-machine.
Can Haaland do the ‘impossible’?
Former England and Everton striker Dixie Dean has the longest-standing record of scoring the most goals in a single season. He scored 60 goals in 39 league games in the 1927-28 season for Everton in the old First Division.
It is a record that has remained untouched since then. The question is can Haaland break the record? With the current goal average of 1.67 per match, he is estimated to score 64 goals, which will easily break Dean’s record.
But that remains a big ‘IF’. This is a record which is virtually impossible to break in the modern game, with the number of matches and the various competitions a player participates in. Also, Pep Guardiola is known for heavy experimentation and given City’s squad depth, there is a possibility that Haaland is rested for a considerable number of Premier League matches, especially before a crucial European tie.
Haaland’s upcoming Liverpool test
Manchester City’s rivalry with Liverpool has undoubtedly been the best in the Premier League over the past few seasons. Last season, Pep Guardiola’s City beat Liverpool by just a point to win the title while the last match between the two teams ended in a 2-2 draw.
In the Premier League, Manchester City and Liverpool have faced each other 21 times. Out of that, City has won nine compared to Liverpool’s seven. Five matches have ended in a draw. When it comes to big wins, City leads there too with a 4-1 win against Liverpool in 2021 and a 4-0 win in 2020.
Liverpool started its season with a 3-1 win against Man City in the Community Shield but since then, has lost its way. Jurgen Klopp’s team this season has been a shadow of its past self. It has managed to accrue just 10 points from its first eight matches and sits 11th in the Premier League table. Manchester City, on the other hand, is second with 23 points, one behind leader Arsenal.
Over the past few seasons, we have seen some mouthwatering battles between Manchester City and Liverpool. Like the ‘Ferguson vs Wenger’ and ‘Ferguson vs Mourinho’ eras, the ‘Klopp vs Guardiola’ era has also cemented its place as one of the best in the Premier League with the two managers publicly acknowledging their respect for each other and admitting how the rivalry pushed both their teams to do better.
This season, however, Guardiola has a new weapon in his arsenal in the form of Erling Haaland and judging by Liverpool’s defensive showing till now, it remains a big doubt whether Klopp’s army can keep the Norwegian Viking at bay. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s recent signing Darwin Nunez has been a hit-or-miss in the Premier League with just two goals till now.
In modern history, Sergio Aguero is City’s highest scorer against Liverpool with seven goals while Mohamed Salah is Liverpool’s highest scorer against City with eight. With Haaland showing a penchant for breaking records, he would surely hope to have a strong start against Liverpool when both teams clash on Sunday.
“When you play against somebody at the moment who is the best striker in the world you have to make sure he doesn’t get that many balls,” Klopp told reporters on Friday when asked about Haaland.
“His finishing skills are exceptional but he moves really smart,” Klopp said. “You can only use speed if you use it in a smart way. His whole package makes it special,” he added.
It remains to be seen what Haaland can achieve as the season progresses, but there are exciting times ahead for Pep Guardiola and Man City fans and nervous ones for its rivals.