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Erling Haaland’s missed chances could cost Man City glory this season

Erling Haaland, 2023-24, Man City

Erling Haaland has been a little inconsistent in front of goal over recent weeks.

Yes, a player with seven goals in his last three outings has been unreliable in the penalty area. Yes, the same Haaland who shattered the Premier League record for most goals scored in a single season and currently leads the goalscoring charts with 18 has been a patchy finisher since returning from injury.

You are reading that right. Writing it feels bizarre and yet this has been the case. He could well fire Manchester City to the top of the Premier League this weekend if he nets at Anfield but that still won’t change what has transpired over the past month.

Haaland made his first start in almost two months against Brentford in early February in what was a 3-1 win for the reigning champions. The City No9 had a total of three shots but failed to put the ball into the back of the net. However, he followed that up with two foals from four efforts in the 2-0 victory over Everton.

He blanked against Kobenhavn in the Champions League despite having a total of five shots in the game. Haaland failed to add to his haul for the campaign in City’s next Premier League game at home to Chelsea. The powerhouse forward had a total of nine efforts and missed three big chances against the Blues in a game that finished 1-1.

Haaland still has 29 goals this season
© IMAGO – Haaland still has 29 goals this season

The former BVB striker did score the winner against Brentford as City claimed a narrow 1-0 win over the Bees. In total, Haaland had six efforts against Thomas Frank’s men.

The 23-year-old missed another three big chances against Bournemouth as City eked out another 1-0 win to stay within touching distance of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table.

It clicked for Haaland against Luton Town in the FA Cup. He had a total of seven shots, missed two big chances and scored five goals. Everything just went his way. He then netted in the Manchester derby, scoring the final goal in a 3-1 win, but he was far from convincing against the Red Devils. He missed a glorious chance to level the scoreline before half-time but someone skied the ball over the bar. It was one of the two big chances he missed on Sunday afternoon.

Haaland then found the back of the net with one of his three attempts against Kobenhavn in the Champions League.

He has 10 goals in his last nine appearances for the 2022/23 treble winners. At a glance, his form is still just as remarkable as ever.

But the Luton game skews those figures. And while he has scored in five of the nine games, City have looked a little toothless in attack in some of the games he’s appeared in. For example, the champions scored a single goal in three consecutive matches. They claimed five points in those games but those games could’ve easily cost City in the title race had the odd bounce gone the opposition’s way. In the three games in question – against Bournemouth, Brentford and Chelsea – Haaland missed a total of six big chances.

Those misses could’ve been costly.

When taking a closer look at his numbers this season, he’s not been quite as ruthless as people have come to expect. Yes, he’s averaging 0.88 goals per 90 and yes, he’s leading the Premier League for most of the offensive metrics. But one thing that is being overlooked is the fact he’s underperforming his underlying numbers.

Haaland has 18 goals from an Expected Goals haul of almost 21. He’s not been an elite finisher. He’s actually devalued efforts with his placement, as highlighted by his Expected Goals on Target total of 18. He’s reliant on volume rather than being clinical in the penalty area, despite the narratives.

He leads the way for Big Chances Missed (26) which does back up the idea that he’s not as much of a guarantee as some will have you believe. He gets a lot of chances and he misses a lot. It happens to the very best. But the way Haaland is discussed, you’d think he was flawless in the penalty area when he’s far from it.

His finishing over the next few weeks could make or break the season for City. If he’s got his shooting boots, they could win yet another treble. If he continues to be inconsistent and missing chances, the champions might fail to retain any of their crowns.

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