Erling Haaland’s arrival leaves no room for fatigue against City this season

It took just over half an hour for the Norwegian striker to bury a disappointing Community Shield performance and score his first Premier League goal.

A lightning run behind West Ham’s injury-riddled defence, including makeshift centre-half Ben Johnson, was found by Ilkay Gundogan, whose deft pass was pushed around Alphonse Areola by Haaland, who was cut off on his way and on his way to bringing home his first Premier League goal from the spot.

The heat was in the spotlight at the London stadium. At half-time, Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne’s cheeks were rosy and various Hammers were huffing, a consequence of their failure to get much of the football, forced into a headless chase of the City machine.

With the heat and complete lack of possession – City finished the game with 75 per cent of the ball and almost four times as many assists as the Irons – came inevitable fatigue and a lesson for other Premier League teams.

When Haaland is on the pitch, fatigue is simply not an option. It sounds harsh, but it’s actually true.

Just after the hour mark, after a rare West Ham foray into City’s penalty area was dealt with by the City defence, Pep Guardiola’s men looked to slowly move out of their own half, moving calmly the ball from sideline to sideline until he eventually finds it. Jack Grealish, who laid a single ball into the field for the Spanish pivot, Rodri.

(Photo by Getty Images)

From there, the danger begins. Rodri, unmarked and without pressure, turns around, takes a single touch and plays a ball into the feet of De Bruyne. The Belgian, who is a few meters in his own half, takes a touch, enters the opposing half and sprays a perfect pass in the feet of the Norwegian in a hurry.

Basically, West Ham captain Declan Rice is within yards of City’s main playmakers, but probably because of fatigue induced by both the heat and the constant and grueling defensive change he had been putting on. in place until then, he was unable to shut down City. No.17 and within 10 seconds the ball went up the field and the last goal of the game was scored.

For West Ham it was a cruel but undeniably deserved final nail in a coffin built by City’s balance, control and ruthlessness, a deft three-man two-pass move that capped off a stellar start for Haaland, around two decades after that. father did his.

For the rest of the Premier League, the former Dortmund man’s second goal was a warning of the impacts of fatigue against this City side. In years past, when Guardiola opted to operate with a false 9, fatigue could go unpunished without City able to make Haaland’s move and finish.

But this new iteration of Manchester City is not that. A single ball in a channel could result in a goal, and given the quality of De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, Phil Foden and all the other chief creative talents the defending champions possess, that decisive ball may come from n’ anywhere in the field, at any time.

City have improved this season, and that means not only will they be able to pass you to death, like they did against West Ham. But instead of scoring nice moves in 35 passes, as they have done in the past, they will be able to score in three passes.

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